Director of the Graduate Programs in Education and Director of the programs in Special Education and Adolescence Education
Phone: (845) 848-4090
Dr. Mike Kelly has been a member of Dominican’s Teacher Education Division since 1987. He graduated from Iona College with a BA in Spanish and Education and then pursued his MS in Ed in Special Education at the College of New Rochelle followed by a post Masters/Professional Diploma in Administration/Supervision and Urban Education and a Ph.D in Administration and Supervision with an emphasis in Special Education Administration. Dr. Kelly instructs many courses in Teacher Education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels—in traditional and online formats. He serves as the Director of the Graduate Programs in Education as well as Director of the programs in Special Education and Adolescence Education at the undergraduate level and advises the Senior Year Overlap Program (SYROP). He is the Certification Officer and liaison with the NYS Education Department. Dr. Kelly’s commitment to the profession of teaching includes a ten-year tenure with the NYS Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) where he served as regional representative and student chapter advisor and currently with the NYS Education Department where his committee membership includes responsibilities for the NYS Teacher Certification Tests Framework Review, Test Item Development, Bias Assessment and Standard Setting. He has a professional practice where he provides psycho-educational diagnostic, remedial and counseling services for children, adolescents and young adults with learning disabilities. He has presented at many state and local conferences on his topics of research interest including Inclusive Pedagogical Practices, Universal Design for Learning, ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Assessment, Parenting, HIV/Aids Education, Educational Technology Integration and Cultural Responsiveness.
Director of Teacher Education Division, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education
Dr. Diane DiSpagna received her Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Special Education from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dr. DiSpagna has earned two degrees from Long Island University including a Master’s of Science in Early Childhood Education and a Professional Diploma in Educational Administration, with a certification as School District Administrator. Her Undergraduate studies were completed here at Dominican University where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Education, with an N-6 Teaching Certification. Before coming to Dominican, Dr. DiSpagna taught in the early childhood and primary grades and served as an elementary school principal for 10 years, all of which has given her many years of valuable experiences to share with the students in the Teacher Education Program. During her career she has also served as a consultant for the teacher preparation programs for other higher education institutions, as a scorer for the Principal Licensure Examination, and is an active member of the Rockland Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children. Dr. DiSpagna also serves as Counselor for the Dominican University Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education.
Professor of Teacher Education
Professor Bencivenga earned an M.A. in history at New York University and a B.A. in social studies and secondary education at Rutgers University. His fields of concentration include curriculum and instruction, staff development, and leadership. He has published in several journals including the National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin, the Middle School Journal, and the English Journal on the topics of instructional leadership and social/emotional intelligence. Professor Bencivenga is a Faculty Associate, national presenter, and consultant for the George Lucas Educational Foundation and a consultant for ISCALS(Improving School Climate for Academic and Life Success) at Rutgers University. Professor Bencivenga’s work has focused on the relationship among social/emotional intelligence, the learning environment and academic achievement. He has presented at the Harvard University Conference on Media Literacy, the Education and Public Outreach Conference of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Education Writers’ Association Annual Conference in Washington, DC, the Building the Brainware Conference on Social/Emotional Learning and Academic Excellence at Rutgers University, and at the Columbia University Media Education Institute. He teaches and advises in the Freshman Year Program and is a member of the Honors Committee. Professor Bencivenga teaches Educational Psychology, School and Society, Introduction to Teaching Methods, and Methods in Adolescence Education. He also conducts field observations of student teachers.
Associate Professor of Teacher Education
Phone: (845) 848-4091
Dr. Strax earned her B.A. from Dominican University, M.S. and P.D. from the College of New Rochelle, and Ed.D. from Fordham University. She is a past president of the New England Educational Research Organization, has held many leadership positions in the Eastern Educational Research Association since 1999, and has published on the topic of special education. A qualitative researcher, her interests include inclusive education, the use of service dogs with people with disabilities, and children’s literature. Dr. Strax teaches Psychosocial Aspects of Exceptionality in the graduate program as well as a range of courses including Instructional Strategies and Materials for the Learner with Exceptionalities, Psychology of Learners with Intellectual and Behavioral Challenges, Inclusive Settings, and School and Society in the undergraduate program.