Marilyn Friend

marilyn friendMarilyn Friend, Ph.D., has spent her career as a general education teacher, special education teacher, researcher, professor, administrator, teacher educator, and staff developer. She is Professor Emerita of Education in the Department of Specialized Education Services at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and she is Past President of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving the educational success of children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents.

Dr. Friend has consulted with school professionals nationally and internationally (more than 3000 presentations and projects in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia) as they collaborate to educate their students, assisting them to create classroom partnerships, to form productive and efficient work teams, and to foster inclusive practices.  She is the author or co-author of three widely used college textbooks on special education; a variety of co-teaching materials for teachers and administrators; more than 50 articles about collaboration, inclusive practices, and co-teaching; and a highly popular video series on co-teaching and other inclusive practices.

James Dallas

Dallas James

James E. Dallas will be taking the helm as the Principal of the new Discovery Elementary School in Loudoun County, Virginia this year.  He is very excited about building a new learning community and about the possibilities that exist with bringing together 4 school communities. Mr. Dallas believes that the most important part of his job early on will be the establishment of trusting and transparent relationships with new families. And, he is thrilled about cultivating a culture of collaboration among the new staff at Discovery.  He wants staff to recognize that there are no barriers to the amazing experiences that can be offered to them and the students.  “I want to create ‘wow-experiences’ every day for EACH adult and EACH child that enter through the doors of Discovery Elementary School.  I know that in my heart it can and will be done!”

Mr. Dallas was previously the Principal of Cedar Lane Elementary School where he served for the past 5 years. Prior to working in Loudoun County, Dallas served as a classroom teacher for 9 years for Fairfax County Public Schools, the eleventh largest school division in the nation. He also served as an Instructional Support Teacher and Staff Development Specialist in the school system’s central office. For 7 years Dallas worked as a school-based Administrator in high poverty areas in Fairfax. He was Principal at Hybla Valley Elementary in Fairfax County. He also was an Assistant Principal at William Halley Elementary School. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech. Dallas also obtained his administrative certification from Virginia Tech.

Nicole Dobbins


Dr. Nicole Dobbins is currently an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, in the Department of Specialized Education Services. She received her Ph.D. in Special Education from the University Nevada Las Vegas in May of 2007 with an emphasis in the areas of emotional & behavioral disorders, autism, and administration. Her scholarship has focused on providing teachers with effective academic, behavioral, social, and cultural strategies for diverse learners with an emphasis on Universal Design for Learning. She has presented at regional and national professional conferences and published several manuscripts in these areas.

As a faculty member in the Department of Specialized Education Services, Dr. Dobbins coordinates the Special Education General Curriculum program, preparing teachers to lead and serve students with disabilities in K-12 settings. She teaches undergraduate and graduate special education courses and supervises clinical field experiences of teacher candidates in special education. She has supervised and mentored over 150 undergraduate students in clinical field setting. As a mentor, she has provided direct instruction to teachers of students with Autism, emotional/behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities and early childhood, in the areas of behavior management, academic and behavioral strategies, assessment and curricular design.

Dr. Dobbins has over 15 years experience teaching students with disabilities and mentoring general and special education teachers. She has provided instruction for students with emotional/behavioral disabilities, learning disabilities, ASD and mental illness in self-contained elementary and secondary settings, as well as inclusion settings.

Mary Kealy

Kealy MaryDr. Mary V. Kealy is an experienced educator with a career spanning 4 decades in public and private schools, and has served many years as adjunct professor at several universities. Throughout her career she has held several administrative positions focused on special education and pupil services in New Jersey and Virginia , such as director of early intervention, principal, director of special education, pupil services administrator and director of professional development. Dr. Kealy currently serves as Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services, Loudoun County Public Schools, Virginia and current Past President of the international Council of Administrators of Special Education, the largest division of the international Council for Exceptional Children. She is also a member of several CEC Divisions, such as Early Childhood, Research, Learning Disabilities, and plays an active role in the Division of International Special Education Services. As an active CEC member, Dr. Kealy also serves on the editorial board of the CEC journal, Exceptional Children.

Her major areas of expertise are in leadership, inclusive practices, interagency collaboration, professional development and policy and advocacy work. In addition to her role as adjunct professor at George Mason University, VA and Nova Southeastern University, FL, Mary serves on several national advisory boards, and has done extensive international educational travel, presentations, training and consulting in Scandinavia, England, Russia, Spain, China, Latvia, Ireland and Kuwait.