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American University’s Online School of Education is proud to connect our students with faculty members who are not only exemplary instructors but also thinkers and innovators who are helping to shape the field of education. We hope you’ll keep reading to learn more about their cutting-edge research, influential publications, honors, awards, and extensive experience in their fields.

Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy

Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-Mccoy

Dean of the School of Education

Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy joined AU in 2016 as the Dean of the School of Education. In concert with her colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences, she concentrates her efforts on recruiting and supporting a more research-active and diverse faculty, developing outstanding new curricula in education, and building bridges to school districts and education industries around the globe.

Stephen Vassallo

Stephen Vassallo

Associate Professor

In his teaching and scholarship, Stephen Vassallo works to merge perspectives to critically explore issues related to teaching and learning, especially in the context of academic self-regulation. He draws from sociology, philosophy, and educational psychology to critically examine some of the ethical, conceptual, and pedagogical complexities associated with teaching self-regulated learning. Using these perspectives, Vassallo explores the implicit and explicit roles that choice, control, autonomy, and freedom play in efforts to teach and learn self-regulation.

Dr. Sarah Irvine Belson

Dr. Sarah Irvine Belson

Executive Director, Institute for Innovation in Education

Dr. Sarah Irvine Belson holds a PhD from Arizona State University in curriculum and instruction with a cognate in special education. Her research explores educational opportunity for children with disabilities and teacher education policy. Her focus on applied interventions for children at risk attends to two major areas of research, namely special education technology and teacher education policy and practice. She is the author of two books and over 50 research papers on practice and policy in special education and education reform. The combination of Dr. Irvine Belson’s experience as a K-12 special educator and her focus on interventions that can increase educational outcomes for children with disabilities is a cornerstone of her research and teaching.

In addition to her work in policy and practice, she also collaborates with colleagues across departments at American University, including Kiho Kim (environmental science), John Nolan (mathematics and statistics), and Anastasia Snelling (health promotion), to inform policy and improve outcomes for children.

Dr. Irvine Belson served as dean of the School of Education, Teaching, and Health from 2002 to 2015, a role in which she was pleased to support faculty and students in the pursuit of excellence in the classroom, in the field, and in research.

Alida Anderson

Alida Anderson

Associate Professor

Alida Anderson earned her PhD in special education from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research and teaching interests focus on contextual factors associated with language development and literacy acquisition in children from diverse backgrounds.

Her research projects have focused on the development of literate oral language by preschool-age children with language impairments and typical language, relationships between cross-linguistic features and reading ability in school-age monolingual and bilingual English and Chinese speakers with reading disabilities, and the development and implementation of a response-to-intervention mathematics practice for teaching place value and number concepts to primary-grade students in underserved urban school settings.

Anderson’s current research projects examine the influence of arts integration on school-age students’ oral and written language in academic content area instructional settings. Her recent publications include Arts Integration and Special Education, an edited volume connecting interdisciplinary frameworks in human development and linguistics, special education, and urban education with primary action research by special educators.

Anderson has presented papers at the American Educational Research Association, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Department of VSA and Accessibility at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Jason Snyder

Jason Snyder

Senior Professorial Lecturer

Jason Snyder’s teaching and research focus on education law and education policy. Prior to joining American University’s faculty, he served as deputy assistant secretary for policy in the US Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. He initially joined the Department of Education through the White House Fellows program, a nonpartisan program for public service and leadership.

Snyder previously served as an education-law attorney and social studies teacher. He practiced education and appellate law at Hogan & Hartson LLP where he advised school districts and drafted briefs in appellate courts, including the US Supreme Court. Before joining the firm, Snyder served as a law clerk to the Honorable Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia. He also taught government, history, and economics for six years in public secondary schools and for one year at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing.

Snyder served as student body co-president at Stanford and editor in chief of the California Law Review at Berkeley.

Dr. Vivian Maria Vasquez

Dr. Vivian Maria Vasquez


Dr. Vivian Maria Vasquez is a professor of education at American University. She has worked in the field of education for over 30 years. Her research interests are in critical literacy, early literacy, and information communication technology. Her publications include 10 books and numerous book chapters and articles in refereed journals.

Prior to coming to AU, Dr. Vasquez taught preschool and public school for 14 years. She has held appointive and elective
offices in scholarly organizations, including the National Council of Teachers of English, the American Educational Research Association, the International Literacy Association, and the Whole Language Umbrella. Dr. Vasquez's awards include the NCTE Advancement of People of Color Leadership Award (2013), the AERA Division B Outstanding Book Award (2006), and the James N. Britton Award (2005). She was also the first recipient of the AERA Teacher Research SIG Dissertation Award (2004). Most recently, the NCTE Early Childhood Assembly honored Dr. Vasquez with a scholarship in her name: the Vivian Vasquez Teacher Scholarship.

Dr. Vasquez is host of the Critical Literacy in Practice Podcast, located at You can find more regarding her work at or

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