Meet Our Special Education Credential Candidates

Listen to our Special Educators in their own words speak about their work as teachers, why they do it, their experiences in the credential program, and their collaboration with fellow candidates and faculty.

Brittany Briones


Brittany Briones earned her Master's degree in Special Education at Sonoma State University after obtaining her moderate to severe Special Education credential. She is a teacher at Greenacre Homes in Sebastopol and previously taught at Cypress School in Petaluma working with students on the autism spectrum. She also coaches soccer at Analy High School, offers in-home behavioral support with children and is studying to become a Board Certified Behavior Specialist (BCBA).

For her cognate project, Briones investigated how to increase students' accountability for their behaviors. She implemented a program to work on the skill of accountability with her students that consisted of a point system based on both self-assesment as well as evaluations by herself and the classroom staff. The point system helped accurately gauge each student's behavior accountability. She implemented this through teaching high self-monitoring skills, self-modeling and positive behavior intervention supports (PBIS) in her classroom.

Sarah Anthony

Sarah Anthony is a Special Education Credential candidate here at Sonoma State University.

Sarah chose the program at Sonoma State because of the smaller program size and the invaluable opportunity to get to know the professors and students. She finds importance in cultivating teacher-student relationships and providing specialized learning to fit each students individual needs. She is looking forward to being able to give back and give students a voice.

Ashlee Overton-Pepin

Ashlee Overton-Pepin is a Special Education Credential candidate at Sonoma State and will be earning her credential in both specialties: mild to moderate and moderate to severe education.

Ashlee is passionate about the skills that are required in special education and unlocking the full potential of a student who has not yet realized it because of the limitations they have faced. She discusses the value of the credential program and how the professors have prepared students for the reality of working in the classroom by offering them the tools to deal with any situation.

Mercedes Binns

Mercedes Binns is a Special Education Credential candidate at Sonoma State and is approaching the student teaching portion of the program.

Mercedes was drawn to how warm and welcoming the program is and how the professors are open to any and all questions candidates might have. She is enthusiastic about helping students gain independence, to whatever level might be possible for them and she looks forward to making changes in schools to facilitate full inclusion; bridging the gap between general education programs and special education programs.

Ruthie Jansen

Ruthie Jansen is a Special Education Credential candidate at Sonoma State and is beginning her student teaching period.

Ruthie appreciates the "person first" language that is integrated throughout the program to see students as people as opposed to people with disabilities. She also discusses what an exciting time it is to be a part of the field where full inclusion has become a widely accepted trend in special education.