About Dr. Christina Yuknis

Christina Yuknis Bio

CHRISTINA YUKNIS  is living her dream of teaching.  She pursued this dream, even when others in her life encouraged her to head down other paths.  After experiencing life in and out of the classroom, she knows that teaching is exactly what she should be doing.  Currently, Chris is an associate professor in the department of education at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, where she has an opportunity to mentor tomorrow’s teachers as they begin their own journeys.

Chris started her career by working as a coordinator for a respite program at a non-profit organization serving adults with disabilities.  In this role, she ran two evening respite sites and worked at an overnight respite facility.  These roles gave her direct experience in working with adults with a variety of developmental disabilities and their families.  As part of the evening respite programs, Chris organized the monthly schedules and activities using input from the program participants.  This work was fundamental in providing the foundation for one of Chris’ most closely held beliefs: people with disabilities should be given choices and autonomy to the maximum extent possible.

Upon moving to the DC area, Chris joined another non-profit as a job coach and community specialist for adults with developmental disabilities.  This experience was valuable in teaching the importance of collaborating with community organizations, making connections between adults with disabilities and the community, and creating effective individualized plans.  One of the biggest challenges Chris faced was in working with agencies and companies who did not believe that people with disabilities had anything to contribute.  Chris learned to advocate for her clients and taught self-determination skills so her clients could advocate for themselves.

After earning her Master’s degree, Chris realized it was time to take the plunge and enter the classroom. She started her career as a long-term substitute in an elementary school learning and academic disabilities program.  Despite the principal’s offer to keep her on permanently, Chris knew that her heart was with secondary-aged students.  She became a special education teacher in a middle school program teaching math and science to students with learning and emotional disabilities. Later, she transferred to the district’s deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHOH) program and taught English and reading.

At this time, Chris started her Doctoral studies in Education Policy, where she realized a passion for policy work. She was hired by the district as the first ever policy evaluation specialist.  This work introduced the intricacies of policy work and broadened Chris’ understanding of what it takes to make a district run.  However, it was primarily an office job, and Chris realized that she needed to be in a classroom.

It was at that time that Chris considered a position that had not been part of her long-term plan and entered the realm of higher education.  Working as a faculty member in a teacher preparation program allows Chris to continue teaching – and impacting the field – while also conducting research that influences educational practice and policy.  Her favorite projects to-date include establishing a makerspace with a colleague and using flipped classroom methods to model what education can look like.

In her spare time, Chris enjoys catching up on TV (especially Doctor Who), reading, baking, training for multisport competitions, and hanging with her dogs.

 

Languages
English
American Sign Language

Awards and Honors
Council for Exceptional Children Division of Research Early Career Publication Award (2015)
Maryland Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Judith Ruchkin Research Award (2013)
ASCD Emerging Leader, Class of 2011
Maryland State Teachers Association Emerging Leader, Class of 2005

Education
Ph.D., University of Maryland College Park, Education Policy Studies: Curriculum Theory and Development
M.S., Johns Hopkins University, Educational Studies
M.A., Gallaudet University, Deaf Education: Multiple Disabilities
Graduate Certificate, Johns Hopkins University, Data-based Decision Making
Graduate Certificate, Johns Hopkins University, Mind, Brain, and Teaching
B.S., SUNY College at Buffalo, Exceptional Education

Specializations
Education Policy; Deaf Students with Disabilities; Secondary Special Education; Teacher Leadership

Licensure
Maryland State Department of Education: Advanced Professional Certificate
Areas of certification: Generic Special Education 1-8/6-Adult, Hearing Impaired, Supervisor of Hearing Impaired, Middle School: English Language Arts