Roberta Atha Strosnider, Ed.D.
Roberta Atha Strosnider, Ed.D., Professor Emerita from Towson University (TU), is an educational consultant in learning disabilities, executive functioning, and teacher preparation and volunteers and advocates for individuals with disabilities at the local, state and national level. She has expressed her passion for bettering the quality of life for all students including those with disabilities by teaching and volunteering her time and knowledge in a variety of ways impacting countless students. She currently serves as adjunct faculty at Frostburg State University where she co-developed and co-teaches an online graduate course in executive functioning. She also co-founded and serves as Co-Director of the Institute on Executive Functioning.
Roberta believes that all students should have the opportunity to receive instruction in executive function skill development and management from teachers trained to explicitly teach them appropriate metacognitive strategies and support their executive function growth. Reaching out to assist students either in or at-risk of being in a downward spiral possibly resulting in failure or drop out, Roberta and her husband established the Success Institute to help students improve executive functions and achieve success in school and their community. She and Val Sharpe have provided a different way for students to learn HOW to learn through their development and teaching curriculum offered in after school programs, Project Boost Summer Camps, and teacher training that make it possible for students to obtain explicit instruction in the executive functions including working memory, prioritizing, cognitive flexibility, organization and planning, to name a few. To do this they have used strategies and metacognition to help students plan and self-regulate their learning and behavior. As a result of the positive impact their training had on students, Roberta and Val wrote The Executive Function Guidebook: Strategies to Help ALL Students Achieve Success published by Corwin Press in 2019. They continue to present workshops on their 7-Step Model for teaching the curriculum and on strategies for students to use to improve their executive functioning around the country.
Roberta earned her bachelor’s degree from Fairmont State University in secondary education and her master’s degree in special education from West Virginia University. She did post graduate work in learning disabilities at the University of Virginia and earned her doctorate in special education administration and supervision from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Roberta taught general and special education in P-12 schools and chaired a special education department. She started in general education teaching social studies and became interested in special education leading her to earn a master’s degree and work with students having a mild cognitive impairment in West Virginia. She taught children with mild cognitive impairments until her family relocated to Virginia. In order to prepare herself to meet the specific needs of students with learning disabilities, she completed post graduate course work to become certified in that area. She taught students with learning disabilities in Virginia and served as principal of a private school for students with learning disabilities there. She also taught part time for the University of Virginia Office of Continuing Education and full time for Old Dominion University.
Roberta relocated and started work on her doctorate while teaching students with learning disabilities in Baltimore County, Maryland. While serving as chairperson of the special education department in a high school, she and Val Sharpe collaborated to establish the first cotaught classroom in the school making it possible for students with disabilities to study Biology in a general education classroom.. She served for a short time as the first Disability Services Specialist in Learning Disabilities for Catholic University in Washington DC and also taught in several institutions of higher education. She holds faculty emerita status from Hood College in Frederick, MD and Towson University, Towson, MD. She served as Chair of the Education Department at Hood College and developed and taught in the first Professional Development Classroom partnership with the local school system.
Roberta directed and taught in the Special Education Undergraduate and Graduate Program at an off campus site, the Universities at Shady Grove, for Towson University. While there she established Professional Development School Partnerships with the local school system and as the program grew, a new program, Elementary Education and Special Education Dual Certification, took the place of the undergraduate Special Education Program. While there she took great pride in offering residents of Montgomery County, MD the opportunity to earn their degree from Towson University locally and complete their internship in local professional development schools.
Roberta’s work has contributed information to the field mainly in the areas of HIV prevention education, co-teaching, professional development schools, mentoring, learning disabilities, teacher preparation, and executive functioning. She has contributed multiple refereed articles and made over one hundred presentations at major conferences and conventions throughout the country. She served as principal investigator for multiple grants at both Hood College and Towson University. While at Hood College she was chosen to serve as a national co-trainer of coteaching HIV prevention education. She served as a consultant to the Maryland State Department of Education preparing materials and resources and providing professional development to teachers. She also served her profession by serving as a reviewer and auditor of special education program reports for the Council for Exceptional Children. She has also worked closely with the Maryland State Department of Education developing and implementing special education teacher preparation programs, content learning modules, teacher professional development workshops, and establishing criteria for teacher self-evaluation.
Throughout her career, Roberta has advocated for students with disabilities. She served as president of the Frederick County, MD Arc Board and as president of the Board of Service Coordination, Frederick County, MD. Roberta is proud to serve on several national boards that have advocacy for students with disabilities as their main focus. Currently, she serves on the Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD) Board of Trustees and represents CLD on the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD), working on policies regarding learning disabilities. This work has resulted in papers, symposia, and infographics, and her inclusion on other workgroups surrounding national regulations and policy affecting the education and life of students with learning disabilities. Roberta remains active with the Teacher Education Division (TED) of Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) as a former Board member. As well, Roberta served on the Can Due Advisory Board. Can Due is a software company that provides an app for students to use to help them remember and complete their homework. Roberta’s work at the Institute on Executive Functioning provides opportunities for her to advocate for attention to the needs of students who have executive functioning difficulties and to provide assistance to school systems, teachers, and parents working to provide instruction in this important area. She and Val Sharpe work in person and virtually around the country providing workshops about the impact executive functioning has on student success. Together, they have developed many evidence-based strategies to support students’ executive function growth.
Awards and Recognition
- Bridgeport High School, Hall of Fame, Bridgeport, West Virginia (2019)
- Alumnae of Achievement Award, Fairmont State University (2017)
- Floyd G. Hudson Award from the International Council for Learning Disabilities (2003) for out of classroom service to the field of learning disabilities
- Professor Emerita of Special Education, Towson University (2006), Faculty Emerita Status, Hood College (2001)
- Friend of PDS Award for founding first professional development school at Hood College (2001)
- Nasim Dil Award (Teacher Education Division of Council for Exceptional Children) for Contribution to Small Special Education Teacher Education Programs (2000)
- STAR Award from the Arc of Frederick County for outstanding leadership and establishment of the first Endowment Committee (1999)
- Beneficial Hodson Fellowship, Hood College to study HIV Prevention Education for students with disabilities (1994)
Valerie Saxton Sharpe, Ed. S.
Valerie Saxton Sharpe is a special educator who has dedicated her work on the behalf of children. Retired from her position as the Program Coordinator for the Towson University B.S. in Elementary Education/Special Education program at The Universities at Shady Grove, Val now serves as Adjunct Faculty at Frostburg State University where she co-developed and co-teaches, with Roberta, an online graduate level course in executive functioning. Currently, Val is Co-Director of the Institute on Executive Functioning.
Valerie believes that executive function skills are an integral part of the learning process and the development of appropriate social-emotional behaviors. She feels that teachers (p-12) need to incorporate a metacognitive approach to the explicit teaching of executive function skills to promote academic and social/emotional success for at-risk students to prevent these students from falling into the Downward Spiral of academic and social/emotional failure. She co-authored, with Roberta Strosnider, The Executive Function Guidebook: Strategies to Help ALL Students Achieve Success published by Corwin in 2019 and continues to present workshops on executive functioning around the country. As a member of the Project Boost team, Val taught students executive functioning skills in a unique summer camp setting. Val and Roberta wrote the summer camp executive function curriculum and designed age appropriate strategy cards to help students recall a variety of strategies. Today, this curriculum provides executive function skill training for students K-12 by building executive function skills through a 7-Step Model they developed.
Valerie earned her bachelor’s degree, with a major in Special Education K-12, from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. She continued her studies at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland, where she acquired a Master of Science degree in Special Education: Severe and Profound Handicaps. Her final degree earned was an Ed. S. in Special Education from The George Washington University, in Washington, DC.
Val started her teaching career as a special education teacher for the Baltimore County Public School System in Maryland. Her first assignment was in a self-contained school where she taught students with moderate cognitive impairments. Moving to a comprehensive high school setting, Val taught students with learning disabilities, and mild cognitive impairments. It was in this setting that she and Roberta implemented a successful co-teaching model between special educators and general educators. Her initial introduction to school administration was when she served as chairperson of the Special Education department in a comprehensive high school setting. Leaving the high school setting, Val became a county instructional specialist, where she supervised and provided teacher training.
Following her public-school teaching path, Val joined the ranks of higher education where she prepared teachers at both Hood College and Towson University. While at Hood College, she played an integral role in the development of an assessment system to measure teacher candidate performance used for program review, reform and accreditation purposes. As program coordinator for Towson University Elementary Education/Special Education at the Universities at Shady Grove she developed innovative methodology used in the preparation of teacher candidates to teach ALL students. Val focused on providing teacher candidates internship opportunities to gain knowledge and skills in universal design, differentiated instruction, and executive function skills. She developed new Professional Development Schools (PDS) partnerships with the local school system and presented with her students at multiple conferences. Today, she continues to mentor many of her former students who have entered the teaching profession.
Val’s contributions to the field have focused on developing instructional techniques to meet the learning and social emotional needs of all students, co-teaching, professional development school partnerships, mentoring, cognitive impairments, teacher preparation, and executive functioning. While at Towson University, Val secured grant funding and served as principal investigator for several grants which resulted in the implementation of teacher preparation projects and developing manuals that addressed co-teaching and mentoring. As well, Val has presented her work at major conferences and conventions around the country.
Val served as an officer for Maryland Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the national CEC Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DADD), Local Arrangements Chairperson for two CEC Conventions, and Secretary for the Maryland Council for Learning Disabilities. As president of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities, under her leadership, the group was able to “get rid of the R Word” in their previous division name and influence national legislation. As well, she served as Vice President of the Service Coordination Board of Frederick, Maryland. Appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley, she served on the Maryland Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board (PSTEB). While serving on PSTEB, Val was asked to be a member of the Education Testing Service (ETS). Praxis II: Elementary Education: Instructional Practice and Applications (5019) writing team. As well, Valerie served on the Can Due Homework APP Advisory Board. Val continues to work with the Institute on Executive Functioning as an educational consultant in executive functioning to P-12 and post-secondary students, schools, teachers, and parents. She and Roberta work virtually as well as travel around the country providing workshops about the impact executive function has on student success. Together they have developed many evidence-based strategies to support executive function skills.
Awards and Recognition
- DDD Service Award (1999-2001) – This award is given by the Division of Developmental Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children for service on behalf of children with cognitive impairments, developmental delays, and autism.
- MRDD Outstanding Leadership Award (2002) – This award is given by the Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children for service to the Board of Directors.
- DDD Special Recognition Award (2004) – This award is given by the Division of Developmental Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children for one’s dedication to the field of special education.
- Towson University Gloria A. Neubert Excellence in Teaching Award (2011) – This award is given to one faculty member from each department of Towson University’s College of Education for contributing to the mission and goals of the University and the College of Education (Award)
- Universities at Shady Grove Kendall Service Award for Program Director (2015) – This award is given to one program director each year who is innovative, advances the career goals of students, enhances professional development and exhibits leadership skills (Award).
James E. Strosnider Bio
Jim Strosnider, Business Manager of the Institute on Executive Functioning is a graduate of Fairmont State University (FSU), Fairmont, WV. While at FSU, he was active on campus and was elected to serve as president of his national fraternity and serve on Inter Panhellenic. Following his graduation from FSU, he served in the US Army during the Viet Nam War. He completed basic training at Fort Bragg, NC and was stationed at Fort Rucker, Ozark, AL. While at Fort Rucker, Jim served in the Military Police Accident Investigation Division and won the Soldier of the Month for the entire base. After completing his two year obligation, he was honorably discharged from the Army ready to begin a career in the insurance industry.
He spent 34 years with Allstate Insurance beginning his career in Charleston, WV as a claims adjuster and moving to management soon after. He was transferred around the Middle Atlantic states and was ultimately promoted to Director of the Claims Division for the Capitol Region making him responsible for the work of over a thousand employees located in MD, VA, WV, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.
While at Allstate, Jim demonstrated a strong work ethic and leadership skills; he had a unique style of organization and management bringing out the best in his fellow employees. He received the Distinguished Leadership Award for his excellent leadership and service numerous times. His employees described him as a fair and honest leader who had high expectations and motivated them to produce excellent results while also showing care for them as individuals. Jim retired from Allstate Insurance in 2002.
Jim joined his wife, Roberta, to cofound the Institute for Success to help students with executive function issues who were spiraling downward in their efforts to achieve and succeed. They worked with students in after school settings during the school year with the help of Val Sharpe and found the students were responding positively to their work. They learned the program was helpful to all students with and without disabilities. Jim, Roberta and Val secured the help of their children, Kim, Kelly, Kristy, their college students, and their colleagues to start Project Boost Camp. Jim secured the sites and handled all the logistics and payments while Roberta and Val developed the curriculum and served as lead teachers. Jim worked with the students as the first one they saw in the morning welcoming them to the camp, the one who provided them snacks at break and took them on Memory Walks, one of their favorite strategies, to the one bidding them farewell when they met their parents at the end of the day. Students and their parents were very appreciative of the progress their children made, and the camp was held several years. The last year the camp was held, all four of their grandchildren attended. Teachers were interested in the program, so Roberta and Val wrote a book describing the curriculum and strategies they used and have traveled around the country to school systems and national conferences teaching it to teachers.
Jim currently serves as Business Manager to the Institute on Executive Functioning which is an outgrowth of the Institute for Success. He handles all travel and finances for the group while Roberta and Val serve as Codirectors. He has witnessed the progress students make when given explicit instruction in metacognitive strategies and is proud to have a role in supporting their executive functioning growth.
Roberta Strosnider, Ed. D.