ELSE Dept. Welcomes New Faculty Member Dr. Sandy Ayala

Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on August 11, 2011 11:32 AM

ELSE welcomes a new Assistant Professor to its faculty beginning Fall 2011, Dr. Sandy Ayala. Sandy comes to the department with a strong background and varied experience in special education, having served as a K-12 special education teacher, speech/language pathologist, and assistive technology specialist. She also has recent experience teaching at the university level as well as serving on the editorial board of a noted journal in the field of special education. She completed her doctorate from U.C. Riverside in 2010 and has relocated from the Claremont area to Sonoma County.

We asked Sandy to tell us more about herself:


I am a native New Yorker. Born and raised in the Bronx and Whitestone, Queens, I discovered my love for working with children with special needs as a volunteer through girl scouting and summer camps. A graduate of SUNY Geneseo, I began my professional career in special education as a Speech Pathologist on Long Island. I earned a Master's degree at the University of Northern Colorado in Outdoor and Therapeutic Recreation Programs where I specialized in ropes courses, rafting and canoeing for children with special challenges and at-risk youth. I moved to Northern California to teach in the Bay Area and direct resident summer camps. I love sports, the out-of-doors, road trips and music.

I moved to Southern California where I worked as a Speech Pathologist for L.A. County and earned a special education teaching credential at CSU San Bernardino. Over the course of the next 15 years I was a teacher of children with varied disabilities including autism, Down syndrome, mental retardation, learning disabilities and communication disorders. I eagerly integrated my love for music and technology into the classroom and became a trainer of teachers in these domains. As an Assistive Technology specialist and advocate, I pride myself on pursing the latest technology research to engage children in their learning process. As a musician, I produce children's educational music and can often be found with a guitar in my hands. I earned my doctorate at the University of California, Riverside in special education with an emphasis on technology integration. I spent 4 years as a Doctoral Fellow working on RTI research and as the Editorial assistant for the Journal of Learning Disabilities. My dissertation work was on the use of video self-modeling and reading disabilities. I am enjoying my return to Northern California whole-heartedly and have kayaked the Russian River a number of times in the past month - with my dog Capo at the helm. I am looking forward to the start of the new academic year and getting better acquainted with Sonoma State University.