Meet the TN-MTSS Center

As a member of the Tennessee Technical Assistance Network (TN-TAN), the Tennessee Multi-Tiered System of Supports (TN-MTSS) Center is funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee and operates through a partnership between Vanderbilt University, University of Memphis, and University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Across Tennessee, the TN-MTSS Center provides technical assistance to build district and school capacity to sustainably implement an RTI2 and RTI2-B. Our training and support focus on strengthening and streamlining implementation of the frameworks’ common features. The TN-MTSS Center focuses on equipping and educating schools to use evidence-based strategies and interventions when implementing the frameworks.

We are here to support district leaders, educators, students, and families, and we provide professional learning and technical assistance at no cost to you. Our website explains how districts and schools can build upon their current implementation practices as they consider ways to support all students effectively and efficiently. Please contact us with any questions!

Middle TN Team

Located at Vanderbilt University, the Middle TN team provides assistance to the following counties:

Montgomery, Robertson, Sumner, Macon, Clay, Pickett, Dickson, Cheatham, Davidson, Wilson, Trousdale, Smith, Jackson, Overton, Fentress, Hickman, Williamson, Rutherford, Cannon, De Kalb, Putnam, White, Cumberland, Lewis, Maury, Marshall, Bedford, Warren, Van Buren, Rhea, Lawrence, GIles, Lincoln, Moore, Coffee, Grundy, Franklin, Marion and Sequatchie.

Contact Information regarding assistance:

Meet the Middle TN Team

Primary Investigator

Casey Chauvin, Ph.D., BCBA, is a Senior Research Analyst in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. She supports two grant-funded projects, Project SPARK and The Tennessee Behavior Supports Project (TBSP). As Co-Investigator of TBSP, she supports efforts to build sustainable RTI2-B systems and practices. Her research interests include behavior assessment and the provision of evidence-based academic and behavioral interventions within multi-tiered systems of support.

Co-Primary Investigator

Blair Lloyd
Blair Lloyd, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) and a member of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. In the Department of Special Education, Dr. Lloyd teaches graduate courses on Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Single Case Research Methodology, and special topics courses on Childhood Aggression and Intensive Interventions. Her current research focuses on intensive, individualized assessments and interventions for students with persistent challenging behavior.

Technical Assistance Team Director – Middle TN

Dia Davis
Dia Davis, M.A., received her Master’s degree in Varying Exceptionalities from the University of South Florida and is working on her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Prior to joining the Vanderbilt team, Dia worked as a consultant on the Florida’s Positive Behavioral Interventions & Support Project, served as a District Coordinator for PBIS, a District Multi-Tiered System of Supports Facilitator, and a special education teacher.

Technical Assistance Consultant

Tara Axelroth
Tara Axelroth, M.Ed., BCBA, received her Master’s degree in Special Education and Behavior Analysis from Vanderbilt University. She was previously a special education teacher in Middle Tennessee where she served on her school’s leadership team to develop their school-wide positive behavioral support program.

Research Analyst

Caitlin Bernstein
Caitlin Bernstein graduated Next Steps last year and loved the program. This is her first year working on this project. She is from Saint Louis but lives in Nashville now. She likes to go to the mall, hang out with friends, and go to Starbucks. She is a big fan of coffee. She also likes to exercise in her room and hang out with her family.

Graduate Assistant

Brianna Campbell is a first-year graduate student in Special Education at Vanderbilt University. She is on the Severe Disabilities track and is doing the Applied Behavior Analysis specialization as well. Brianna is from the Chicagoland area and received her B.A. in Psychology at the University of Illinois Springfield. After completing her M.Ed., Brianna is interested in becoming a BCBA.

East TN Team

Located at University of Tennessee – Knoxville, the East TN team provides assistance to the following counties:

Scott, Campbell, Claiborne, Hancock, Hawkins, Sullivan, Johnson, Morgan, Anderson, Union, Grainger, Hamblen, Greene, Washington, Carter, Unicol, Roane, Anderson, Knox, Jefferson, Cocke, Loudon, Blount, Megis, McMinn, Monroe, Hamilton, Bradley and Polk.

Contact Information regarding assistance:

Meet the East TN Team

Co-Primary Investigator

Tara Moore, PhD, BCBA assumed many roles and responsibilities in rural and urban Tennessee public schools while working directly with students with learning, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities and their teachers. As a classroom teacher, she taught students with and without disabilities in special education and inclusive classrooms in elementary, middle, and high school settings. As a research liaison and school-based consultant, she provided training and on-going consultation to both special education and general education teachers who were implementing classroom-based interventions to prevent and reduce students’ problem behaviors. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and both a Master of Education degree and a PhD degree in special education from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Tara is certified as a behavior analyst by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Her research interests include classroom and behavior management and teacher-student interactions to prevent and reduce problem behavior.

Educational Consultant

Michael Morrow is an educational consultant with the Tennessee Multi-Tiered System of Supports Center at the University of Tennessee. He taught special education in Knox County Schools, serving students with both low and high incidence disabilities, specifically focused on students with Autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and complex behavior and communication needs. Following years of service in the classroom, he served in the Knox County Schools as a district level special education facilitator, overseeing programming and working with teachers to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Michael has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education from the University of Tennessee, and is currently pursuing a PhD in special education and certification as a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst at UT.

Educational Consultant

Jessica Eshbaugh is an Educational Consultant for the Tennessee Multi-Tiered System of Supports Center. Jessica has ten years of experience in public education working in high-needs school settings where she taught English Language Arts and provided support, instructional coaching, and professional development to teachers as a TAP Master Teacher. Jessica has served as an educational consultant since 2015 when she came to UT, Knoxville to support East Tennessee districts and schools implement a state-wide tiered framework for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).  Jessica is currently pursuing a PhD in Special Education and certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). While working towards her BCBA, Jessica has served as a behavior interventionist in a clinical setting for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (ID/DD). Her research interests include school-wide and classroom-based interventions to improve behavioral and academic outcomes for all students.

Educational Consultant

Ashlee Smethers is an Educational Consultant for the Tennessee Multi-Tiered System of Supports Center. Ashlee was a special education teacher for students with low and high incidence disabilities, including students with significant communication and behavioral needs in inclusive and special education classroom settings. Ashlee is pursuing a Ph.D. in Special Education and certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Her research interests include evaluating and utilizing teacher preparation, teacher training and coaching models, behavior skills training and performance feedback models, and technology tools to improve teachers’ use of classroom management strategies to improve student outcomes. Ashlee has a Master of Science in Special Education from the University of Tennessee and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Baker University located in her home state, Kansas.

Educational Consultant

Jessica Ogburn is an educational consultant with the Tennessee Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Center at the University of Tennessee. Jessica has over 20 years of experience working with children with behavioral disorders and implementing inclusionary practices to support children with disabilities in child care facilities and schools in East Tennessee. She enjoys providing technical assistance, trainings, and guidance to teachers in the education field. She graduated with a BA in human growth and learning with a focus in elementary education from Tusculum College and obtained a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from The University of Phoenix.

Educational Consultant

Miller Foutch is an educational consultant with the Tennessee Multi-Tiered System of Supports Center.  She has over twenty-three years of experience working with individuals with disabilities and behavioral disorders, both in school and residential settings.  While in college, Miller assisted individuals transitioning to supportive living environments and assisted with access to community and vocational experiences.  Throughout her teaching career, she taught in a variety of K-12 classrooms including both traditional and alternative school settings.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Exceptional Education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a Master of Education Administration from Union College.  Miller holds endorsements in modified and comprehensive Special Education, Secondary English, English as a Second Language and Administration.

Administrative Specialist

Melissa Breenden is the administrative specialist for the TN-MTSS East region team.

Graduate Research Assistant

Jade Bennett is a graduate research assistant with the Tennessee Multi-Tiered System of Supports Center at the University of Tennessee. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Western Carolina University in 2017. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD. in School Psychology and certification as a Board Certified Analyst at the University of Tennessee. Her research interests include academic and behavioral interventions, such as the Color Wheel System and group contingencies.

West TN Team

Located at University of Memphis – Lambuth, the West TN team provides assistance to the following counties:

Lake, Obion, Weakley, Henry, Stewart, Dyer, Gibson, Carroll, Benton, Houston, Humphreys, Lauderdale, Crockett, Madison, Henderson, Decatur, Perry, Tipton, Haywood, Chester, Shelby, Fayette, Hardeman, McNairy, Hardin and Wayne.

Contact Information regarding assistance:

Meet the West TN Team

Co-Primary Investigator

William Hunter Ed.D. is an Associate Professor of Special Education at the University of Memphis.  Since 2015, he has served as Principal Investigator for this project. Dr. Hunter received his Ed.D. in Special Education from the University of Cincinnati. His background includes working as a special education teacher in urban schools for 12 years, as a special education administrator for 2 years, and as a residential mental health intervention specialist for 9 years. His professional interests include Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, and Classroom Level Positive Behavior Intervention Supports.

Co-Primary Investigator

Laura Casey Ph. D. earned her Ph.D. in 2006 in School Psychology. Prior to joining University of Memphis as a professor of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), she worked as a behavior consultant, counselor, and psychometrist in the schools. She currently teaches ABA classes and primarily provides Tier 3 supports for this project. She holds the following certifications: Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral level (BCBA-D), Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP), National Certified Counselor (NCC), and Licensed Professional Counselor-MS (LPC).

Project Director

Paula Brownyard served as a Special Education Supervisor in Jackson-Madison County for more than 20 years. She worked at Lambuth University as head of the Education Department prior to joining the project staff. Paula has served as past president of the Governor’s Advisory Council for the Education of Students with Disabilities and as the Interim Assistant Commissioner for Special Populations at the TN Department of Education. Paula earned her master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Memphis.

Educational Consultant

Carolyn Stark spent more than thirty years as a classroom teacher and Reading Recovery Supervisor in Dyer County and Dyersburg City Schools. She was then selected for the TN Department of Education’s Exemplary Educator program, working as a consultant in struggling TN schools, before joining the project team. Carolyn’s professional interests include tiered interventions and support of behavior interventions, as well as coaching support for districts and schools. She earned her master’s degree from UT Martin in Education Leadership and an Education Specialist degree in Reading from the University of Arkansas.

Educational Consultant

Sandra Harper served as public educator for over forty years. During that time, she served as a principal, curriculum and special education supervisor, and superintendent of schools. Sandra served as a board member on the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents and other Tennessee Department of Education Task Forces. She brings the local school and district perspective to the project team to assist in implementation and sustainability. Sandra completed a master’s degree at the University of Memphis in Guidance and Counseling and completed additional hours at Tennessee State University for administrative licensure.

Educational Consultant

Shelby Cook earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Mississippi and her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Memphis. She is a Licensed School Social Worker and Licensed Master Social Worker. She has worked with children and families in underserved communities through community mental and behavioral health agencies and the public school system. Her professional interests include family and community engagement, advanced tier implementation, mental health integration, social emotional learning, and cultural responsiveness.

Educational Consultant

Victoria Perry has served as a public educator for 22 years. She is a licensed school administrator, certified teacher, and holds a library science endorsement. She has experience as being a classroom teacher, a school librarian, and an assistant principal of a middle school and high school. She earned her B.S. from University of Memphis and earned both her M.Ed. and Ed.S. from Union University. Prior to joining the project in 2018, while serving as a high school assistant principal, Victoria led the implementation of PBIS at her school with great success. Her professional interests include supporting schools at the secondary level and advanced tier implementation.

Educational Consultant

Debbie Williams received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin and received certification as a Vision Specialist from Middle Tennessee State University. She served as a K-12 special education teacher before becoming a teacher of students with visual impairments teaching braille and cane skills. She has served as a special education teacher consultant, a reading consultant, and an RTI2 District Coordinator. Her focus in the study of reading and working alongside consultants with the State Personnel Development Grant helped her establish a county as a demonstration site for RTI2. Debbie’s professional interests consist of tiered interventions, strategies for decreasing inappropriate behaviors, and increasing academic achievement for all students.

Project Assistant

Ashlyn Blair has been with the project since 2016. She earned both her Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Master of Arts in Communication from the University of Memphis in May 2017 and August 2020, respectively. Her professional interests within the project involve media, data, creative projects, and supporting schools and districts throughout the training process and additional supports as requested.

Business Manager

Erin Strowder joined the project team in 2015. As Business Manager, she provides financial and administrative office support to assist with the daily functions of the project. Prior to working for this project, she served as an Office Assistant for another grant at the University of Memphis (Project Memphis) that specialized in the provision of early intervention services.

Content Development Team

Meet the Content Development Team

Content Development Team Director

Brooke Shuster
Brooke Shuster, M.Ed., BCBA, received her Master’s degree in Special Education and Behavior Analysis from Vanderbilt University. She joins the team after serving as a special education teacher and then a Behavior Analyst in school districts in Middle Tennessee.

Content Development Team Consultant

Melissa Hine
Melissa Hine, M.Ed., NCC, received her Master’s degree in Professional Counseling from The University of Georgia and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. Previous to Vanderbilt, she worked as a Professional School Counselor for school districts in Georgia and Iowa and managed grant work at the UGA Disability Resource Center.

Content Development Team Consultant

Jennifer Higgs, M.S. received her Master’s degree in Administrative Leadership & Supervision in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Prior to joining the Vanderbilt team, Jennifer taught Instructional Methods for Special Education at Lipscomb University and supervised resident teachers at both Lipscomb and Belmont University. She previously served as the Associate Director of Pupil Services for GBAPS managing student support programing.

Media Specialist

Kyle Kurlick works on multiple projects as a media specialist for the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Kyle has spent the past decade telling the stories of Tennesseans across the state as a multimedia producer for various organizations.

Graduate Assistant

Jacob Frier is a first year master’s student in the High Incidence Special Education program at Vanderbilt University. He is also pursuing his credentials as in applied behavior analysis. Jacob is originally from Gainesville, Ga and completed his undergraduate studies at Vanderbilt University with a B.S in Special Education. He plans to become a teacher or behavior coach for students with severe and challenging behaviors and academic needs.