2019 New Faculty

The College of Education welcomes new faculty that bring expertise and new areas of teaching to several of our departments. Learn more about their backgrounds and areas of interest below.


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Lisa Sigafoos - Assistant Professor of Practice

Lisa Sigafoos

What institution were you most recently with and what was your role?

I was a graduate student in the department of special education and a TA for ALD 322, Individuals Differences (undergraduate course).

What are your research interests or area of specialty?  

I'm interested in Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in higher education to create more inclusive postsecondary classrooms, specifically for students with disabilities. I train instructors to use UDL principles, which helps make classrooms more learning accessible.

What sparked those interests?  

Having disabilities myself, I experienced classroom barriers to learning.

What are you excited about for your new position? 

Working with the incredible faculty in the department of special education as well as collaborating with others around campus. Also, helping to train future special education teachers to go change the world!

What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

To create more inclusive and accessible classrooms for students with disabilities; break the stigma of disabilities on campus; and increase instruction effectiveness through the implementation of UDL practices within classrooms.


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Barbara Gideon - Assistant Professor of Practice

Barbara Gideon

What institution were you most recently with and what was your role?

As a Professor of Practice, I have most recently worked in Central Texas School Districts including Austin ISD, Bastrop ISD, Burnet ISD, Del Valle ISD, Manor ISD, and Pflugerville ISD to support school leaders in strengthening their instructional systems to better support teaching and learning resulting in improved student outcomes. Since 2011 I have been associated with The University of Texas as an adjunct professor and have also served in that role at Texas State University.

What are your research interests or area of specialty?  

My research interests revolve around strengthening schools so that all children learn well. I am interested in effective administrative practices, systems that support teacher collaboration, effective instructional practices, and identifying and dismantling practices that sort and select children and that further perpetuate marginalization.

What sparked those interests?  

I have served as a high school principal and a district-level leader. The business of schools is learning, and yet so many other factors often take our focus. I see the challenging environment in which teachers and principals work, the multiple demands placed upon them with limited resources, and the passion with which they do their work. My experiences spark a passion for helping educators do the right work and maintain the love of learning that brought them to our profession.  

What are you excited about for your new position? 

I am excited to work with aspiring school leaders in the Texas Principal Leadership Academy. I hope to help our students expand their perspective from the classroom to the school level and beyond, to see with fresh eyes and to learn both the skills and the disposition to serve as effective school leaders.

What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

I hope to contribute my experience and expertise to equip the next generation of school leaders to create “the schools our children deserve” (Theoharis, 2009).


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Zoe Mantarakis - Assistant Professor of Practice

Zoe Mantarakis

What institution were you most recently with and what was your role?

I was most recently employed as master teacher at several local yoga studios in town (Dharma Yoga, BFree Yoga, Practice Yoga) and self-employed as the lead yoga teacher trainer in my own yoga school, Yoga Illumined.  My BA in Philosophy is from UC Berkeley.

What are your research interests or area of specialty?  

I am interested in the relevance and modern applications of the ancient art and science of yoga.

What sparked those interests?  

I love Yoga because it is Philosophy embodied; it combines my passion for studying classics and ancient philosophy with modern applications and relevance to today’s world.

What are you excited about for your new position? 

I’m excited to be UT Austin’s first-ever Assistant Professor of Yoga Practice and developing a brand new program for students to study yoga for college credit within the Department of Kinesiology. 

What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

I hope to contribute to the College of Education and to UT as a whole by offering classes and a specialization in yoga that students can apply to their studies in many other fields. Medicine, psychology, physical therapy, even business and ethics all have ways that yoga could be integrated and applied. I imagine the study of yoga as an interdisciplinary pursuit.


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Stephen Taylor - Assistant Professor of Practice

Stephen Taylor

What institution were you most recently with and what was your role?

I spent the last three years at the University of Iowa where I taught a variety of activity courses for the Department of Health and Human Physiology and earned a second master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology.

What are your research interests or area of specialty?  

I have written several articles over the past few years on the relationship between traditional training and current trends in the martial arts industry.

What sparked those interests?  

The development of mixed martial arts (MMA) and in particular the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), first in the US and now in China, has led to a great deal of confusion about the role of traditional martial arts training and its usefulness in the modern world.

What are you excited about for your new position? 

I am looking forward to reorganizing and eventually expanding the martial arts courses offered at UT as well as developing mutually beneficial relationships with all of the martial arts clubs here.

What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

In addition to creating new courses for the kinesiology program, I hope to eventually offer additional classes through Rec Sports, as well as Austin Community College, and to work with the wide variety of martial arts schools throughout Austin to bring internationally recognized instructors to UT for seminars and workshops.


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Kelly Cruise - Assistant Professor of Practice

Kelly Cruise

What institution were you most recently with and what was your role?

I have always been affiliated with UT Austin. I was an undergrad in Special Ed and earned my master's in Language and Literacy. Between these, I was an elementary teacher and reading intervention teacher at an elementary school in Houston, Texas.

What are your research interests or area of specialty?  

My interests are teacher education, especially pre-service teachers. I also am passionate about teaching kids to read.

What sparked those interests?  

I worked at an international school in Shanghai, China. In the class of 15 students, there were 13 different nationalities represented. Since I was teaching first grade, I was amazed at how the students were using their home languages to learn English.

What are you excited about for your new position? 

I am excited about my role as a cohort coordinator, as well as working with first-year teachers as a mentor. Having students armed with as much knowledge and confidence, plus the growth mindset as they begin their careers as educators is something that is always infused in my thinking.

What do you hope to contribute to the College of Education or the Austin community?

I hope my students will leave and enter their own classes looking for the positives in students and families. I want them to be able to excel at an extremely difficult job and know that they are making a difference in the lives of their students. I also want to build lasting partnerships with schools in which I work in order to collaborate deeper and form relationships that allow us all to learn and grow from each other.