Meet Our SPED MA Students

Get to know our students and alumni from the Special Education Masters program.

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.

Molly Nagel

Molly Nagel with posterMolly Nagel was born in San Francisco and raised in Marin County. She attended College of Marin and then Sonoma State in the 1970's where she earned a B.S in Psychology.

Early on Molly had an interest in teaching special education. Her mother was a SPED student who was very well-supported by her teachers growing up; Molly felt passionately about doing for others what they did for her mother, in catering to her special needs.

She worked for a family business for a long time, until the business closed and she was given the opportunity to pursue a new career path. She worked as a resource teacher and later became a full-inclusive SPED teacher at the high school level. She decided to further her education, and completed the SPED and Educational Leadership Master's program in May of this year.

Molly believes that great teachers can make a difference in the lives of children with significant learning disabilities. She wants to better understand how they learn, and believes every student can. She hopes to be able to teach fellow educators about inclusion and supporting students with disabilities. She also hopes to create professional development opportunities to help fellow Special Ed teachers.

She wants to convey that her experience at SSU has been wonderful. She has enjoyed her professors and teachers and feels very well prepared for the job. Specifically the program has bettered her understand of how people learn and how to modify curriculum to fit individual needs.

Erin Hartelt

Erin HarteltErin Hartelt grew up not far from here in the East Bay. She attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as an undergrad, where she studied pre-med before eventually switching to psychology. After college she started working as a low level social worker. She left that position to become a full-inclusion aid, which fueled her interest in pursuing Special Education.

Erin chose SSU because her family is from around the area. She earned a Special Ed credential for mild-moderate disabilities in 2009. She became an intern for Bellevue Union School District. After some time, she decided she wanted to know more and returned to SSU to get her Master's in Special Education.

She enjoys the challenge of working with students that have a wide range of different needs. She finds it rewarding to help them meet their goals and grow. Erin is able to bond with the kids, which can be difficult for some adults. She loves children and working with them in the small classroom sizes. The small group sizes allow her to focus on the whole child and ensure that all of their individual needs are being met.

She wants to continue learning how to become a better teacher, leader, and role model for her students. She feels that continuing her education will help her attain these goals.

The tough balancing act of attending classes, working, and raising a family can be challenging, but Hartelt says it's worth it. She's had great professors and a very positive experience at SSU. She enjoys the ability to think about what she wants to learn and guide her own education.