Courtney Pacholski of China, Maine, a Ph.D. candidate in education at the University of Maine, and her advisor, James Artesani, associate professor of special education, are the recipients of the UMaine 2015 President’s Research Impact Award.
The annual award, presented at the closing ceremony of the GradExpo April 3, is given to the graduate student and advisor who best exemplify the University of Maine mission of teaching, research and scholarship, and outreach. The $2,000 as part of the award is shared equally between the student and advisor. The awardees also receive special mention at the Graduate Hooding and Recognition Ceremony on May 8.
Pacholski’s research focuses on PBIS — positive behavior interventions and supports for rural school districts to help students at risk for behavioral issues that could result in failing at school. Pacholski has taught graduate courses focused on positive approaches to student behavior. In addition, she provides professional development to educators on schoolwide approaches to behavioral intervention, including the benefits of a check-in/check-out system that establishes regular communication between teachers, students and parents to provide feedback and documentation of youngsters’ progress in attaining behavioral goals.
In her research, Pacholski has examined the effects, feasibility and possible adaptations of the Check-In/Check-Out model on the behaviors of elementary and middle school students. The results of the study indicate positive outcomes in addressing students’ behavior problems in the classroom while strengthening the student-teacher relationship.
Pacholski’s presentation at the Grad Expo integrated her contribution of evidenced-based behavioral interventions through graduate coursework, professional development and outreach, and research, which has had a positive impact on teachers and students throughout Maine.
Pacholski received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UMaine in 1998, and a master’s degree in educational psychology, with a concentration in applied behavior analysis from the University of Southern Maine in 2011. Pursuing a Ph.D. has allowed her to expand her proficiency in the areas of implementation science and multi-tiered systems of behavioral intervention in school settings.
Currently, she is working with multiple school districts through the Penobscot Region Educational Partnership (PREP), as well as districts in Kennebec, Lincoln, Aroostook, Androscogin, Oxford, and Franklin counties. In addition to work in PBIS, she has been contributing to the Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research (MAIER) by providing professional development to Maine Autism Leadership Teams (MALT), and by collaborating with the Deborah Rooks-Ellis, the director of MAIER, is helping develop standards for programs supporting individuals with autism spectrum disorder.