Faculty & Staff

Photo of Dr. GonzalezJorge E. Gonzalez, Ph.D. (Principal Investigator)

Dr. Gonzalez is an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. His scholarship emphasizes the importance of adult-child social interactions for exploring the processes by which teachers and families pass along skills, knowledge, and values of literacy. His research examines the causes and correlates of early reading difficulties in young disadvantaged or ELL children, and instructional programming that accelerates vocabulary and background knowledge for these children. His published works are represented in multidisciplinary refereed journals and book chapters. Journals have included Reading & Writing Quarterly, Journal of Special Education, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Multiple Voices, and Journal of Early Intervention. Research, publications, presentations and other scholarships are supported by three federally funded grants from U. S. Department of Education.

He is currently the principal investigator (PI) on Early Reading First (ERF) project titled Accelerating Children's Early Literacy and Language (ACELL), and Institute of Education Sciences (IES) grant titled Words of Oral Reading and Language Development (WORLD). He is also currently a co-principal investigator (CO-PI) in an Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Preparation of Leadership Personnel training grant for bilingual school psychology doctoral students.


Sharolyn Pollard-Durodola photoSharolyn Pollard-Durodola, Ph.D., (Co-Principal Investigator)

Dr. Sharolyn Pollard-Durodola is the Morgridge Endowed Associate Professor in Literacy in the Child, Family, and School Psychology program at the University of Denver. Dr. Durodola’s scholarship attends to the prevention and intervention of language and literacy difficulties (Spanish/English) among students with identified disabilities or at risk of later academic difficulties. Central to her scholarship is an interest in developing intervention curricula that build on validated instructional design principles, evaluating their impact on the language and reading development of struggling readers (Spanish/English), and investigating how to improve the teaching quality of language/literacy practices of teachers of young English language learners (ELLs) and non-ELLs who are at risk for reading difficulties. She has received grants from the Institute of Education Sciences and the Mexican American and U. S. Latino Research Center. In 2010, she was named a Mexican American and U. S. Latino Research Center Fellow. Dr. Pollard-Durodola has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Exceptional Children, Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, The Elementary School Journal, Language Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, and the Bilingual Research Journal. She has co-authored one book, Dynamic vocabulary read-aloud strategies for English learners: Building language and literacy in the primary grades and two commercial intervention curricula: SRA Intervención Temprana de Lectura and Vocabulary power: Grade 3 and 4 for speakers of African-American vernacular English.

Prior to joining the University of Denver, she served as an Associate Professor in the Bilingual Education Program in the Department of Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University. Dr. Pollard-Durodola has also served as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Center for Academic and Reading Skills, University of Texas – Houston Medical School where she was responsible for overseeing two projects (Classroom Observations, Prevention of Reading Difficulties for ELLs) in the NICHD funded grant, “Oracy/Literacy Development in Spanish-Speaking Children” .

Dr. Pollard-Durodola’s undergraduate studies were in Romance languages (Spanish and Portuguese) at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. She has a MAT in teaching Spanish from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City and a MS in developmental/remedial reading from City University of New York. Her doctorate from the University of Houston in Texas is in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on second-language acquisition and bilingual education. In addition to her educational background and scholarly work, she has 14 years of school-based experiences (school administrator, reading specialist, and teacher) in high poverty settings.


Laura Saenz photoLaura Saenz , Ph.D., (Co-Principal Investigator)

Dr. Laura M. Saenz is an associate professor of special education at The University of Texas Pan American. Her scholarship emphasizes literacy instruction for English language learners with learning disabilities. Her most recent research has emphasized how to effectively take research-based reading practices to scale in general education classrooms. Her published works are represented in multidisciplinary refereed journals and book chapters. Journals have included Exceptional Children, Reading & Writing Quarterly, Remedial and Special Education, and Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis.
From 2004 to 2010, she was co-principal investigator (Co-PI) on an Institute of Education Sciences goal four, scaling up grant. This work was a collaborative effort including colleagues from Vanderbilt University and University of Minnesota. Across the six years of the project, Dr. Saenz and her colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial examining the instructional and contextual factors that affect the scaling up the research-based practice known as Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS).

Photo of Heather DavisHeather Davis, M.Ed., (Project Coordinator)

Mrs. Davis has 12 years of educational experience as both a special educator and a diagnostician.  Her research interests currently focus on the home literacy environments of young children and how language and literacy experiences within these environments contribute to future academic outcomes.  Alongside the focus on communication and literacy skills, she also has interest in providing evidence based behavioral interventions to young children within the home setting. 

Her previous work has been published in the Journal of Positive Behavioral Interventions, School Psychology Review, and Remedial and Special Education.  She has presented at several national conferences and continues to assist in providing adequate staff development and trainings related to literacy and behavior.


Nora Resendez photoNora Resendez, M.Ed., (Project Coordinator)

Mrs. Resendez has 13 years of experience in the education field as a special education teacher, general education teacher and special education administrator. her background and experience in the special education field has been focused in early childhood disabilities. As a graduate student at the University of Texas - Pan American, she conducted a poster presentation entitled "The Fear Survey for Adults with Mental Retardation" at the Texas Psychological Association Annual Conference. She has conducted many staff development trainings for topics and issues related to the special education field at local school districts. Mrs. Resendez is currently enrolled at the University of Texas - Pan American pursuing a second Masters degree in Educational Psychology to become a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology.