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Faculty Biographies

Photo of Dr. Samantha L. StrachanDr. Samantha L. Strachan serves as Interim Department Chairperson, Program Coordinator of Secondary Education, and Assistant Professor of Science Education. She has an earned doctorate in Science Education from Morgan State University (Baltimore, MD), a Master of Secondary Education (Biology) degree from Alabama A&M University (Normal, AL), and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Mount Allison University (New Brunswick, Canada). Prior to becoming a faculty member at Alabama A&M University, Dr. Strachan served as a science education research assistant where she conducted research focused on improving how urban students, particularly those of African descent, are taught science. As an Assistant Professor, she served as a faculty representative for NASA’s MSI TEN Network and a faculty mentor for NASA’s MUREP Educator Institutes. She is a certified AMSTI (Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative) trainer for pre-service educators, and sits on the Board of the Alabama Science Teachers Association (ASTA). Dr. Strachan’s current research is focused on improving African American males’ participation in the teaching profession. Her work also focuses on pedagogical practices in science classrooms. In addition to publishing her work, she serves as Project Director of the M.AL.E. (Males for Alabama Education) Initiative, a state-sponsored program, and as co-Principal Investigator on a grant funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). She has presented her research, both nationally and internationally, at several professional education conferences. She is two-time Jhumki Basu Scholar, a 2018 Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) Clinical Fellow, and the 2019 recipient of Alabama A&M University’s Excellence in Faculty Advising/Mentoring award.

Photo of Dione Jordan-HamiltonDione Jordan-Hamilton, Assistant Professor of Reading, completed her BS degree in Early Childhood Education from Valdosta State University. She earned her M.Ed. and Ed.S. degrees from Alabama A&M University in Early Childhood Education as well as her Ph.D. in Reading.  Dr. Jordan-Hamilton taught for Huntsville City Schools for twenty years. She currently teaches courses in early childhood and elementary education in the undergraduate and graduate level programs. Her course emphasis is in Reading Education.


Photo of Dr. Annette MohanDr. Annette Mohan, Associate Professor for Early Childhood Education, joined Alabama A& M University in 2016. Besides teaching courses such as Children’s Literature, Expressive Arts, and Classroom Organization and Administration, she also serves on dissertation committees for doctoral students. As an active member of many national and international organizations that include NAEYC and ILA, Dr. Mohan has presented at conferences and published articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Some of the topics that interests Dr. Mohan are Literacy and Health, Sensitivity to Diversity, Educational Equity of Minority Children, Challenging Traditional Perceptions of Beauty, Empowerment of Young Women, Body Image and Self-Efficacy. Dr. Mohan firmly believes that all children have the ability to learn. She is an advocate for providing teachers with missing ingredients such as strategies, resource materials including textbooks, and family and community involvement approaches. In her spare time, she is a world traveler and an avid reader.

Photo of Johanna MasseyJohanna Massey, Assistant Professor of Elementary Education, has BS and MA degrees in Elementary Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a PhD in Elementary Education from the University of Alabama.  Dr. Massey teaches courses in early childhood and elementary education in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Her course emphasis are STEM methods courses. The undergraduate pedagogy courses include embedding Alabama Math Science Technology Initiative (AMSTI) approaches in science and mathematics methods courses.  Dr. Massey’s scholarly work includes presentations at state and national conferences and serving as Co-PI for the NASA STEM Educator Professional Development Collaborative project.

Photo of Dr. Takisha DurmDr. Takisha Durm, Assistant Professor of Elementary Education, has a diverse background. After a brief career in criminal justice, she pursued a career in elementary education. In that capacity, she has served as Teacher of the Year, a Jenice Riley Scholarship Recipient, and a leader of various professional development courses.  She has a BA in Political Science, Master’s Degrees in Elementary Education and Educational Leadership, an Educational Specialist degree in Elementary Education, and a PhD in Elementary Education. Over the years, she has presented at various national conferences and has published within peer-reviewed journals.  Her research interests are centered on using social studies and social justice education to empower marginalized urban and rural youth. She spends most of her free time enjoying nature with her family (3 beautiful daughters).

Photo of Dr. Sha LiDr. Sha Li, Professor of Instructional Technology, graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2001. Dr. Sha Li has taught instructional technology courses in the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership since 2001. He has also taught other courses such as educational assessment, qualitative research, and educational research. His research interests are in instructional design with technology, multimedia in education, and distance education.

Dr. Sha Li often actively participates in community service activities, and has participated in many local multicultural events by playing the Chinese flute and accordion and singing in choirs.

Photo of Dr. Adrain Christopher-AllenDr. Adrain Christopher-Allen, Assistant Professor of Special Education, obtained her bachelor’s degree in Science and Human Behavior from the University of Tennessee-Martin, and her master’s and doctorate degrees in Special Education from the University of Memphis. She taught Special Education for 4 years in Haywood County Schools and has worked with preschool through post-secondary aged students with disabilities (and has loved every minute of it). She is an Army veteran and the child of two Army veterans. She is a mother of 3 children and enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.

Photo of Dr. Donna Spencer PittsDr. Donna Spencer Pitts is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Alabama A & M University.  Her research focuses on the impact of Executive Function on Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, including identification and treatment of neurocognitive deficits that contribute to self-regulatory failure in students with EBD.  Dr. Pitts has authored numerous journal articles and book chapters, and has presented research related to EBD, Executive Function, and Social Emotional Learning at professional conferences throughout the country. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in early childhood, elementary, and secondary special education, and has worked as a special education teacher in elementary settings.  Prior to working with children and youth with disabilities, Dr. Pitts spent more than 20 years in leadership positions in various corporate environments, developing new processes and programs, and implementing best practices.  

Photo of Dr. John MurrayDr. John Murray, Assistant Professor of Instructional Leadership, has been a classroom teacher, ACT/SAT tutor, science department head, high school principal, and university instructor in his more than 25 years as an educator. He chose education as a career because he loves helping people believe in themselves and love helping them grow and learn. He has written two books namely Effective Teacher Learning Practices in U.S. Independent Schools and Designing and Implementing Effective Professional Learning, and has published more than a dozen articles on schools and teaching. He holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Auburn University, an M.A. in School Administration from Columbia University, and both an M.Ed. and a B.A. from the University of Virginia.