About Our Team
Learn more about our committee and founding members!
Dr. Michael Ballard
Dr. Jennifer Beal
Dr. Joanna Cannon
Dr. Caroline Guardino
Dr. Jessica Trussell
In an effort to bridge the “research to practice” gap and serve our membership and the field of deaf education, The Radical Middle Team has developed two strands focusing on research and practice. Our Research Strand team will focus on research dissemination and discussion and our Professional Strand (practice) team will focus on strategy instruction, professional development, and outreach. Dr. Michella Maiorana-Basas will serve as the TRM Research to Practice Strand Coordinator. Follow our Facebook Page for updates!
Learn more about our team members, below:
Mr. John Kirsh
Dr. Michella Maiorana-Basas
Dr. Christina Rivera
Dr. Uma Soman
Dr. Jenna Voss
Professional Strand, TRM Webmaster, TRM Research to Practice Stand Coordinator:
Michella Maiorana-Basas, Ph.D. (Founding Member)
Dr. Michella Maiorana-Basas is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Undergraduate Program in Deaf Education at Flagler College, St. Augustine, FL. Michella has over 10 years of k-12 classroom teaching experience in deaf education in the bilingual setting and over 17 years of experience dedicated to the field as a professional.She has previously served as the Constituent Chair for Deaf Hard of Hearing for the Division of Communicative Disabilities and Deafness (through the Council for Exceptional Children) and as a board member for Hands and Voices, Michigan. Michella’s research is focused on the content area reading practices of teachers in upper-grade classrooms in signing programs and has dedicated her study and service to building bridges in deaf education.
Professional Strand: Christina Rivera, Ph.D. (Founding Member)
M. Christina Rivera, Ph.D. is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies at the University of Arizona. She earned her BA in Elementary Education from Arizona State University, her MA in Special Education and Rehabilitation with an emphasis on Deaf Education from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Arizona. She is a 2011 recipient of the National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities fellowship and a 2014 Erasmus Circle Scholar at the University of Arizona. She has been a researcher with the Center on Literacy and Deafness since 2012 and has over 20 years of experience as a teacher and leader in the field of educating students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Dr. Rivera’s research interests include literacy assessment and intervention of DHH students, using coaching to support teacher implementation of interventions, and the itinerant model of service delivery to DHH students.
Research Strand: Joanna Cannon, Ph.D. (Founding Member)
Dr. Joanna E. Cannon is an Associate Professor in the Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education department at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She completed her Ph.D. after teaching deaf and hard of hearing students in middle school as an itinerant and resource teacher for 9 years. Dr. Cannon is the co-director of the Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Graduate Program where she teaches the language, literacy, and curriculum courses. Her areas of research include grammar and literacy acquisition for students who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Professional Strand: John Kirsh
John Kirsh is currently a teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing at Bloomfield Hills Schools, a center program for Oakland County in southeast Michigan. He has been teaching there the last 14 years. Prior to that, he taught 8 years in Detroit Public Schools. Over the years, he has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Currently, he is teaching all subjects to 5th, 6th, and, 7th graders. He obtained his Master’s degree in Special Education – Deaf Education at Michigan State University. He also took graduate courses post-masters in Special Education including a concentration in Mathematics Education. Additionally, he taught American Sign Language at Mott Community College and Baker College in Flint, MI. He now teaches ASL at Oakland University in Rochester, MI. His interests include teaching mathematics to DHH students and ASL to hearing students.
Originally from Chicago, Illinois, John has been Deaf since toddlerhood and is a consumer of both Oral and Total Communication approaches in Deaf Education. He graduated from John Hersey High School, which has a program for DHH students and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, NY.
When he is not teaching, John enjoys traveling and spending time with his family.
Research Strand: Jennifer Beal, Ph.D. (Founding Member)
Dr. Jennifer Beal is an associate professor in Deaf Education at Valdosta State University. She received her Ph.D. in the Education of Students with Exceptionalities (Deaf Education) from Georgia State University, where she was a Language and Literacy Fellow and a member of an Institute for Education Sciences (IES) grant team focused on emergent literacy of deaf children. Previously she was a Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing and an administrator at the Georgia School for the Deaf. She currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses related to Deaf Education. Her research focuses on how deaf children, deaf adults, and typically hearing university second-language learners develop and use American Sign Language (ASL).
Research Strand: Jessica Trussell, Ph.D. (Founding Member)
Dr. Jessica Trussell is an Assistant Professor in the Masters of Science in Secondary Education program at National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at Rochester Institute of Technology. Her primary research interest is developing evidence-based decoding interventions for secondary readers who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH). Her current focus is teaching DHH students morphology that can be accessed through printed English. Further, she conducts research investigating the effects of interactive storybook reading on young DHH children’s vocabulary. Jessica recently joined the Center for Education Research Partnerships at NTID to collaborate with researchers who are also interested in improving instruction for students who are DHH.
Research Strand: Caroline Guardino, Ph.D. (Founding Member)
Dr. Caroline Guardino is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Education of the Deaf Program at the University of North Florida. Her research interests involve literacy/technology and deafness as well as the inclusive learning environment for all children with disabilities She enjoys teaching courses in both Exceptional Student and Deaf Education as this combined knowledge provides a platform for her passion to provide pre-service teachers with better services and strategies to use with students who are Deaf with Disabilities (DWD; www.understandingdad.org ).
Professional Strand: Uma Soman, Ph.D. (Founding Member)
Uma Soman, Ph.D., LSLS Cert AVEd. is a teacher of the deaf, mentor to pre-service and in-service professionals, and a researcher. She is National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities Fellow (2010-2014) and completed her doctoral degree in Hearing and Speech Sciences at Vanderbilt University in 2017. Currently she is the Outreach Coordinator at Carle Auditory Oral School in Urbana, IL, and works with students who are deaf or hard of hearing, their families, and their educational teams in mainstream school environments. She also trains and mentors professionals who are pursuing listening and spoken language specialist certification in the United States of America and India. Dr. Soman’s research focuses on exploring the impact of hearing loss on development of neurocognitive processes that underlie language development in children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Additionally, she wants to examine the long-term academic and social outcomes of children who are deaf or hard of hearing
Professional Strand: Jenna Voss, Ph.D. (Founding Member)
Dr. Jenna Voss is currently an Assistant Professor in the department of Communication Disorders and Deaf Education at Fontbonne University. As a National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities fellow, Voss completed her PhD in Speech and Hearing Sciences in the Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. Her background, as a teacher of the deaf and early intervention provider, has sparked diverse interests in topics including the health disparity among children and families living in poverty, primary prevention of abuse and neglect for children with disabilities, and provider use of strategies and techniques implemented in family-centered practice. Recently she has investigated how research findings in cognitive psychology might be applied to the field of deaf education to improve the efficiency of learning and instruction of pre-service teachers.
Research Strand: Michael B Ballard, ABD
Michael is an Assistant Professor at Eastern Kentucky University in the Department of American Sign Language and Interpreter Education. He has previously taught at Iowa State University, Brigham Young University, and Utah Valley University. Michael is currently a doctoral candidate at Drake University. Michael is the first known Deaf person to attend Drake University in their doctoral program. His research interests include Philosophy, Philosophy in Deaf Education, Post-Secondary Deaf Education and Outcomes. Michael is on track to complete his PhD in Education in 2018. In addition to Drake University, Michael earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado (Colorado Springs) and his master’s degree from Gonzaga University. His thesis is entitled Communication and longevity in Deaf-hearing marriages. Michael has been deaf since 13 months old and is a consumer of both Oral and Bi-Bi approaches in Deaf Education. When not working in academia, Michael enjoys spending time with his family, watching sports, and a nice bonfire in his backyard.
Making Connections, Globally
Where we are and where we have been!