Doctoral Student Awards

May 5, 2021
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SOE Doctoral Students have won significant awards from professional associations:

HebdaMaryann Hebda
PhD student, Gifted & Talented Education
Department of Educational Psychology
2020 First Place, Non-Doctoral Completed Research Award

National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)


Hebda entered her paper, “Comparing Identification of Gifted and Talented Students in Two States with Different Policy Mandates to Identify,” in the NAGC competition right before starting the Baylor PhD program. Hebda has been a special education resource teacher and gifted education facilitator in Kansas and Nebraska schools. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Special Education and Elementary Education and a master’s at Emporia State University in Kansas.


KirkpatrickMarie Kirkpatrick
PhD student, Applied Behavior Analysis
Department of Educational Psychology
Graduate Student Research Grant –
Organization for Autism Research (OAR)
Selected to Cohort of Research Doctoral Student Scholars –
Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)


Kirkpatrick funded her dissertation research through the grant award from OAR, studying video-based instruction in Lorena ISD and the SOE’s Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities (BCDD). Membership in the CEC Research Cohort is an internationally competitive opportunity in professional development and networking. After graduation this year, Kirkpatrick will teach at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA). She earned a Master of Education in Special Education at Texas State University and bachelor’s degree in Special Education at UTSA.


LeibowitzLori Leibowitz
EdD student, Learning & Organizational Change
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
GT Coordinator, Norwalk (CT) Public Schools
2020 Gifted Coordinator of the Year
National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)


In just two years, Leibowitz totally redesigned the gifted education program in her Connecticut school district. Her efforts resulted in inclusion of more students in gifted programs, beyond those who do well on traditional academic measures. Leibowitz holds an MA in Education from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, and a BA in history from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She has more than 20 years of classroom and administrative experience in Connecticut elementary and middle-grades schools.


ParkerBrandon Parker
PhD student, School Psychology
Department of Educational Psychology
2020 Outstanding Graduate Doctoral Student
Texas Association of School Psychology


The TASP award recognizes “exemplary” school psychological services. Parker was nominated by his practicum supervisor, Lindsay Shockley, also a Baylor SOE School Psychology graduate and a school psychologist for Lorena ISD, where Parker provides individual counseling services to students in special education as a component of the Baylor program. Parker earned a BS in psychology at Brigham Young University before entering the Baylor program, where he is earning both the MSEd in Educational Psychology and PhD.


SheltonDr. Ryann Shelton
PhD graduate, Curriculum & Teaching
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
Lecturer, Baylor School of Education
2020 Dissertation Award
School Science and Mathematics Association (SSMA)


Shelton’s winning dissertation, nominated by her mentor, Dr. Trena Wilkerson, examined how college professors design and implement curriculum for future math teachers based on the guidelines of the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Shelton graduated from Texas A&M University with a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and a bachelor’s in Mathematics with a minor in German.


WilliamsHeather Williams
EdD student, K-12 Educational Leadership
Department of Educational Leadership
Assistant Principal, Warren Dupree Elementary School,
Jacksonville North Pulaski School District (AR)
National Outstanding Assistant Principal (one of 20)
National Association of Elementary School Principals
2021 Arkansas Elementary School Assistant Principal of the Year
Arkansas Association of Elementary School Principals


After two years as an assistant principal, Williams believes “relationships and trust” are key contributors to successful campus management. She came to the job with experience as an elementary classroom teacher and reading specialist. She holds an EdS in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of Central Arkansas, an MEd in Reading from the University of Arkansas Little Rock, and a BA in Early Childhood from Harding University.
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