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Phone: 630-829-6283 | Send Dr. Pelech an Email | Office: KN 256
After a thirty-year career as a high school math teacher, Dr. James Pelech joined the School of Education in June of 2003. Dr. Pelech has earned a Doctorate in Curriculum and Social Inquiry from National Louis University, a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Mathematics Education from Concordia University, a Masters of Business Administration from Governors State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Saint Norbert College.
Dr. Pelech taught mathematics at three high schools. His academic initiatives included cross-curricular teaching and Problem-Based Learning (PBL), new teacher mentoring, and being a member of the North Central Accreditation Team. In 2003 he was Richards High School’s nominee for the “Excellence in Education Award.”
Here at Benedictine Dr. Pelech continues to use PBL and the creation of authentic products in all classes. Examples of authentic products include the design of a multi-media project for a local K-8 school focusing on such topics as “How to prepare for a test,” or “How to organize one’s materials”. It must be noted that these projects are actually used by this school. In an interdisciplinary course involving health services professions, students are asked to design a display for a health fair focusing on underserved communities. Dr. Pelech utilizes Benedictine values in his teaching as he uses ideas from the Rule of Benedict as teaching strategies. In 2016 he was awarded the Kevin Doyle Faculty Award for Leadership in Mission and Catholic Identity.
Dr. Pelech’s research focuses on using action research to enhance student learning. Previous research topics include analyzing how class quizzes can actually increase learning, and examining student time management. He has had two books published. The first one, The Comprehensive Handbook of Constructivist Teaching: From Theory to Practice discusses how to incorporate the Constructivist philosophy into one’s daily teaching. The second book, Guide to Transforming Teaching Through Self-Inquiry, focuses on the use of the Constructivist theory to monitor such teacher activities as personal journal writing, research, and professional development.
In terms of professional development, Dr. Pelech is very involved in a wide range of professional activities and organizations. He is a Fulbright Specialist, and in the spring of 2016 he provided professional development to faculty and students at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. This initiative resulted in an electronic research conference in 2017 between Charles University’s Doctoral candidates and Benedictine undergraduate students. Dr. Pelech’s professional development also includes working with various departments here at Benedictine. He is past President of the Association for Constructivist Teaching, an international organization comprised of teachers, administrators, and researchers. He was one of the founding members of the Benedictine/Saint Ethelreda partnership. In this capacity he works with teachers from this school to improve their teaching; this includes co-teaching at different grade levels. He is also President of the Saint Ethelreda School Board which was named one of the recipients of the National Catholic Education Association’s “Outstanding Board" Award.
Phone: (630) 829-6394 | Send Kristin an Email | Office: Kindlon Hall 263
Phone: (630) 829-6293 | Send Dr. Writer an Email | Office: Kindlon Hall 258
Dr. Jan Writer joined the School of Education in 2008. She serves as the Director of Student Placement and teaches courses in the area of special education. She was previously an Associate Professor of Education at Elmhurst College and on the Education faculty at the University of San Diego and the University of Arizona, where she coordinated graduate teacher education programs in the areas of severe disabilities, orthopedic impairments, and multiple sensory impairments. She holds a Ph.D. in special education from the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in severe/multiple disabilities, a master’s degree in speech pathology and audiology from Southern Methodist University, and a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing therapy from Indiana University.
Dr. Writer has been working in the field of special education for more than 40 years. Prior to joining BU, she was employed as a speech pathologist, a classroom teacher, the coordinator of programs for students with moderate and severe disabilities for a 16-district special education cooperative, a state education agency staff development specialist, a multi-state Deaf-Blind Regional Center education coordinator, an independent evaluator of students with disabilities, an onsite technical assistance provider, a teacher educator, and a parent advocate. Over the past 38 years, she has consulted to programs serving persons with severe disabilities in over 34 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, the U. S. Pacific Trust Territories, and American Samoa.
Dr. Writer is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Council for Exceptional Children, International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Autism National Committee, Autism Society of America, National Coalition on Deafblindness, TASH (formerly The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps), Autism Society of Illinois, and Arc of Illinois. A specialist in public school inclusion and the education of children and youth with low incidence disabilities (autism, orthopedic impairments, intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, sensory impairments, and deafblindness), she serves on leadership committees for multiple national and international organizations in the field of special education. She has further presented at more than 300 regional, state, national, and international conferences on topics specific to the quality education of students with moderate, severe, and low incidence disabilities.
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Phone: (630) 829-6295
Dr. Alandra Devall is an associate professor and educational psychologist in the School of Education. She came to Benedictine the first time as a graduate student after receiving her bachelor’s degree at Elmhurst College in Special Education. She spent a year completing her master’s degree here in education and went on to Loyola University of Chicago for her PhD in Curriculum, Instruction and Educational Psychology. She returned to BU in 2002 as an assistant professor, where she has taught 11 different courses in both education and psychology for both undergraduate and graduate programs.
In the fall of 2006, Dr. Devall was appointed the Chair of the Institutional Review Board by the Provost, and has since worked diligently to make the IRB process not only smooth, but user-friendly for students and faculty. Currently, Alandra enjoys mentoring undergraduate, graduate and dissertation students in their research pursuits, and has completed over 40 theses, a few of which she has presented and co-presented at the prestigious AERA (American Educational Research Association), HICE (Hawaii International Conference on Education) and the University of Oxford. Dr. Devall’s primary research interests include educational psychology, teaching with technology, adolescent wellness and improving the outcomes and education of adolescents with behavior disorders. In the past five years, Dr. Devall has presented numerous internationally peer-reviewed presentations, published several articles and book chapters, and continues her research/advocacy on issues including social justice and incarcerated youth.