School of Education Special Education Department

Undergraduate Programs| Graduate ProgramsApply to NMHU | Accreditation | Forms | CatalogFaculty and Staff | Contact Us

Education | Special EducationEducator Preparation Handbook

About the Gateways and Progressing through your program

Apply to the SOE or Student Teaching

Quick links

Special Education Programs

Graduate programs in Special Education and Gifted Education are also offered.


Emily Williams, PhD.,  Assistant Professor Special Education, Department Chair Special Education and Teacher Education

Emily Williams (1 of 1)She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Secondary Education (Language Arts) from Ottawa University, a Masters of Arts in Special Education from the University of Florida, an Ed. S. in School Psychology and a Ph. D. in Special Education from New Mexico State University. As a k-12 educator in Florida and New Mexico in General and Special Education and served as a school psychologist for several years. Her research interests include teaching efficacy, parents and families of children with disabilities, online education, and Autism based disorders.

Phone: 505-454-3535
Curriculum Vitae

Paul James (PJ) Sedillo, PhD., Assistant Professor

Paul Sedillo (1 of 1)Dr. Sedillo is a native from Albuquerque, received his BA degree in Elementary Education from Highlands University, Las Vegas NM., Masters in Special Education from UNM (University of New Mexico), and Doctorate from UNM in Special Education with an emphasis on counseling and the gifted and talented. Dr. PJ Sedillo’s dissertation entitled A Retrospective Study of Gay Gifted, Young Adult Males’ Perceptions of Giftedness and Suicide is a qualitative, retrospective study that investigated suicidal ideation among 32 young adult men.  Participants were asked to report their experiences as adolescents. The primary focus of the study was to discover how gay gifted adolescents dealt with issues of suicide and suicidal ideation.  Based on the study’s outcome, a theory of suicidal ideation was proposed, and an assessment was designed for future studies. He taught within the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) for the past twenty-four years as a general/special and gifted education teacher.  He was also a Resource Teacher assisting newly hired teachers of the Gifted to APS.  Currently, Dr. PJ Sedillo is an assistant professor at New Mexico Highlands University in the special education/gifted department.

Phone: 505-891-6907
Curriculum Vitae

Yvonne Moreno, PhD., Term Professor


Job Prospects

Students who graduate from NMHU with degrees in Special Education are prepared to teach children in the P12 school years with special education or gifted education needs. They often take positions as special education teachers working with exceptional students and their families. They may also be employed as case managers who manage Individual Education Plans (IEPs).

Students who graduate from NMHU with degrees in Elementary/Special Education are prepared to teach children in the P12 school years with special education or elementary education needs.

Prominent Graduates

NMHU Special Education Department has many prominently placed graduates in important positons, nationally. Among them are Mr. Daniel Benavidez, Director,  Tierra Encantada, SantaFe, Casey Benavidez, Assistant Director, Tierra Encantada, SantaFe, Anna M. Valdez, Principal Family Partnership, West Las Vegas Schools, and Bob Pasternak, SPED DOE US.

Robert H. Pasternack, Ph.D. is the Senior Vice President of Special Education for Voyager Learning Company. Dr. Pasternack served as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) at the U.S. Department of Education from 2001 to 2004. During his tenure, he was responsible for the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In addition, Dr. Pasternack served on two Presidential Commissions, including the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education and the President’s Mental Health Commission. Dr. Pasternack also served as the Chair of the Federal Interagency Coordinating Committee during his appointment as the Assistant Secretary.

Prior to being appointed by President Bush to this position, Dr. Pasternack was the State Director of Special Education for the State of New Mexico. During his distinguished career in New Mexico, Dr. Pasternack was a teacher, a superintendent of schools, the director of the state’s first residential treatment center for children with serious emotional and behavioral problems, and Chief Executive Officer of New Mexico’s first licensed Comprehensive Children’s Community Mental Health Center. His work in New Mexico included improving outcomes and results for children with disabilities, implementing full day Kindergarten with mandatory use of scientifically based reading interventions, training of teachers on the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, parent-professional partnership, resiliency in juvenile delinquents, and a number of innovative efforts to serve ALL students.

Dr. Pasternack is a nationally certified school psychologist, a certified educational diagnostician, a certified school administrator, and a certified teacher (K-12). Recipient of numerous honors and awards, he is a frequent presenter at local, state, regional, national, and international conferences.


Why Prospective Education Majors Choose Highlands?

Among the many strengths inherent within our program that prompt NMHU Special Education students to choose Highlands, students cite the following as foremost as leading factors:

  1. Cost
  2. Safety – Students can park next to the building and not have to walk great distances at night.
  3. Small Class Size
  4. World Class Professors
  5. Access to Advisors

Our program is accredited by NCATE and is leader amongst Special Education preparers in New Mexico, and nationally.