Naima Bhana — Featured Story

Dr. Naima Bhana, Assistant Professor of Special Education
The future of Niagara University’s College of Education continues to prosper with the new faculty addition of assistant professor of special education, Dr. Naima Bhana.

“I had a list of requirements that I was looking for in my 'ideal job' and Niagara checked all of my boxes, starting with the dedicated special education undergraduate and graduate programs, opportunities to pursue teaching (while conducting) research, and the emphasis on service to the community," Dr. Bhana said. "I also really enjoyed meeting the rest of the faculty, and the dean of the college of education Dr. Chandra Foote.”

Dr. Bhana teaches classes in the special education, early childhood, and applied behavior analysis programs. Currently, she is teaching a research methods in applied behavior analysis class, a class on autism spectrum disorders, and an early childhood assessment class.

In 2021, Dr. Bhana earned her Ph.D. from the Penn State University, following her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Florida State University. Her research interests focus on working with caregivers (e.g., parents, teachers, therapists) of students with developmental disabilities and teaching them strategies they can use in everyday routines to support the child’s communication and behavior. 

Dr. Bhana worked as a teacher’s assistant at the university daycare as an undergraduate student. After graduation, she moved to Tampa, Fla., and worked as a teacher of students on the autism spectrum for four years.

“I loved teaching my students in Florida and miss it every day. It was one of the hardest but most rewarding things I will ever get to do.” Dr. Bhana said. “However, it is incredibly rewarding to be able to share that knowledge with a new group of future educators every semester. I really enjoy reading my current students’ projects and self-reflection. It fills me with pride knowing they will soon be out there, working with their own set of students and making a difference in their lives.”

In conversation, Dr. Bhana shared one of the things the pandemic has taught society is how valuable educators are. Teachers will always be needed in some capacity. There is particularly a great need for teachers trained on methods to support students with disabilities. Almost every district right now is looking for more than one teacher in this area. In many districts, there are also economic incentives for teachers who teach in high needs areas, such as special education.

Dr. Bhana also pointed out several more advantages she's experienced with Niagara's College of Education:
  • "NU has a variety of programs that will meet the needs of all future teachers. You can specialize in math or Spanish while also getting a special education credential, which is a huge advantage in the job market.”
  • “NU also offers small classes which allow us as professors to get to know our students, meet with them more frequently, and conduct in-class and out-of-class activities that you couldn’t do in bigger classes.”
  • “Students get to work with professors on research or community service projects.”
  • “Most of our graduate education programs are online. This is great for educators who are currently working full-time and require flexible class schedules.”

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