Special Education Faculty

Dr. Gena Barnhill

Dr. Gena Barnhill is the coordinator of Lynchburg College's Graduate Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) certificate programs. With the increased prevalence rates of ASD now reported at 1%, there is a tremendous need to train professionals in effective educational practices for this special population.

Dr. Barnhill completed her PhD in special education with an emphasis in Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and Behavior Disorders in 2000 from the University of Kansas (KU), which was the only institute of higher education offering specialization in Asperger Syndrome. Dr. Barnhill brings expertise in Asperger Syndrome and other ASDs both professionally and as the parent of an adult son with Asperger Syndrome. She has been an active member of the Virginia Autism Council for more than six years.

Her areas of research interest include adult issues in ASD and teacher personnel preparation programs for individuals with ASD.

Previously Dr. Barnhill worked as an autism consultant, special education coordinator, and school psychologist for the North Kansas City School District in Missouri, and she taught adjunct courses at William Jewell College, the University of Kansas, and Avila University before moving to Lynchburg, Va. to begin the ASD Certification program in August of 2006.

Professionally, she has worked as a school psychologist, school counselor, and a pediatric Registered Nurse. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral level, a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, and a reviewer for the NASP Communqué.

Dr. Barnhill has published more than 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has given presentations at over 190 national and international conferences, including the Autism Society of America (ASA) and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). In 2002, she published the book, Right Address...Wrong Planet: Children with Asperger Syndrome Becoming Adults, and with her husband, Press Barnhill, she co-authored Parents of Children with Disabilities: A Survival Guide for Fathers and Mothers published in 2010. In addition, she has contributed book chapters on autism spectrum disabilities for four textbooks. She is actively involved across campus in committee work on projects such as the energy savings company initiative. Her community work includes Christian Healing Ministry Prayer.

Dr. Glenn Buck

Dr. Glenn Buck is the Elizabeth Forsyth Distinguished Professor of Education and Human Development. His primary duties include teaching graduate level courses in the area of early childhood special education and supervising interns.

In addition to his work at Lynchburg College, he served as the Executive Director for Elizabeth's Early Learning Center, a local program that serves approximately 110 children from culturally and economically diverse backgrounds.

Dr. Buck was active in the development of the St. Lucia-Lynchburg College teacher training programs in special education (established in 2003).

Dr. Buck holds a leadership position in the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA), and he serves as a consulting editor for Remedial and Special Education. He is a frequent speaker at regional teacher in-service programs, and at state and national conferences.

His areas of expertise include Response-to-Intervention (RTI), effective behavior management, special education policy, and multicultural education.

As a sideline, Dr. Buck performs with local jazz bands (keyboard and saxophone).

Dr. Deanna Cash

Dr. Deanna Cash received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in psychology, her Master of Arts and Educational Specialist degrees from Radford University, and her doctorate in special education from the University of Virginia.

After working as a school psychologist in local public and private schools for 15 years and teaching as an adjunct faculty member since 1994, she began her full-time teaching career at Lynchburg College in 2004.

Her current areas of research include autism, reading development in special populations, and early childhood development. Other areas of interest include teacher preparation, differentiation of instruction, program analysis and development, special education process and procedure, and personnel development and supervision. She is published in Chicago Companion to the Child (2009) in the area of education of students with autism.

Dr. Edward A. Polloway

Dr. Edward A. Polloway is the Rosel H. Schewel Distinguished Professor of Education and has taught at Lynchburg College since 1976. He also serves as vice president for community advancement and dean of graduate studies.

His professional experience includes public school teaching, consulting with local and state agencies, and serving two terms as the president of the Division on Developmental Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children.

He is the author of approximately 20 books in special education and more than 100 articles in refereed journals.

Dr. Polloway was recognized with the Burton Blatt Humanitarian Award and was selected as a Distinguished Alumnus of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.

Professor Merrill Tolbert

Professor Merrill Tolbert has been a faculty member in the School of Education since 1980. She received her bachelor's degree from Slippery Rock University in special and elementary education, a master's in special education from Duquesne University, and an educational specialist's degree from University of Miami (Fla.) in educating infants and young children with severe disabilities.

Prior to coming to Lynchburg College, Professor Tolbert was the founder of Project Daniel, an early intervention program for babies with disabilities serving the Central Virginia area since 1978. She has also worked in neonatal units, public/private schools and institutions with infants, toddlers, children and adolescents with severe disabilities.

During her time at Lynchburg College, Professor Tolbert has coordinated the Early Childhood and Severe Disabilities Program, was coordinator of the Special Education Program and director of field experiences. She also directed the Technical Assistance Center serving special education professionals, children, and families (a Virginia Department of Education grant funded project).

Dr. Jeri Watts

Dr. Jeri Watts received her undergraduate degree from The College of William and Mary and did all of her graduate work at the University of Virginia.

Dr. Watts is very interested in the reading and writing connection, writing instruction, and teachers as writers. She has published professionally in Virginia English Bulletin, Reading in Virginia, and has a book, Writing Teachers Become Writers, published in 2007. She has published creative work in a number of small literary journals and nonfiction magazines. Her picture book, Keepers, was published in 1997.

Dr. Watts is involved across campus and the community in a number of endeavors, from mentoring the women's basketball team at LC to working on the Lynchburg City Race Dialogue.