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Faculty Member Aaron Deris Chosen for Select 'Ambassador' Group

Deris will serve as statewide "ambassador" to spearhead use of recommended practices for the care and education of young children with disabilities.

University of North Carolina Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute News Release, 10-11-2016

Aaron R. Deris will serve as a statewide “ambassador” to spearhead use of new recommended practices for the care and education of young children with disabilities. Deris, associate professor in the Department of Special Education at Minnesota State University, Mankato, joins a select group of 16 experts chosen by the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.

“We hand-picked the ambassadors for their broad expertise and skills,” said Joan Danaher, associate director of the ECTA. “They form a national cohort with knowledge of evidence-based practices, professional development and training, and their state’s early childhood services and practitioner networks.”

Danaher explained that ambassadors will serve as an extension of the ECTA Center, disseminating information and providing training within their states. Not only will ambassadors collaborate with one another to develop and share strategies and resources, but each will develop and implement goals aligned with a state improvement effort.

“As part of this inaugural group of ambassadors, Aaron Deris will also participate in designing, documenting, and making recommendations for subsequent groups as we continue to disseminate materials nationally,” said Danaher.

The Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children developed the Recommended Practices to provide guidance to practitioners and families about the most effective ways to improve learning outcomes and promote the development of young children, birth to age 5, who have or are at-risk for developmental delays or disabilities.

Danaher said that through a cooperative agreement with the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education, the ECTA Center has developed a suite of products for practitioners and families to learn how to apply the Recommended Practices to developmental interventions in everyday routines and settings involving children and families. All of the products and resources are free, including popular videos starring “aRPy,” an animated spokesperson created by the ECTA Center.

Deris and his fellow “aRPy Ambassadors” are based in state and local agencies and universities. They will receive support for their roles from state programs for children with disabilities birth through age 5 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

“As part of the Minnesota Early Childhood Higher Education Consortium, I’ll be able to impact not only the pre-service teachers that I work with at my university, but also at the other Higher Education institutes across the state,” Deris said. “I’ll also share information with early childhood special education coordinators and supervisors, state department staff, and teachers.”

Deris said he already infuses the DEC’s Recommended Practices throughout the coursework in the teacher preparation program at Minnesota State. He also is collaborating on the development of case studies for the Recommended Practices, which will be used by teachers before and after they are hired.

Deris is one of two ambassadors that the ECTA Center selected for Minnesota. Joining him is Jennifer Moses, the 619 Coordinator for the Division of Early Learning Services in the state’s Department of Education.

The aRPy Ambassadors made their debut at the DEC International Conference in Louisville, Ky., on Oct. 18.

More about aRPy:

Meet the aRPy Ambassadors:

Learn more about the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute:


Aaron R. Deris, Associate Professor
Department of Special Education
Minnesota State University, Mankato at Edina
7700 France Ave. S., Suite 353
Edina, MN 55435
Phone: 952-818-8878
Fax: 952-818-8886

FPG grants permission to use and/or disseminate this story in whole or in part.

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