A treasured tradition at every ETSU commencement ceremony is the moment when President Noland asks each graduate who is the first in his or her family to graduate from college to stand and be recognized. To the amazement of the audience, the number of students who stand in recognition is typically more than half of the entire graduating class.
Dr. Tina Hudson understands the journey of those students. A native of rural Kentucky, she was the first in her family to earn a college degree. She went on to receive a master’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Kentucky.
It was during her final year at the University of Kentucky that she learned about a faculty opening at ETSU.
“One of the reasons I chose to take this job at ETSU was because I wanted to pay it forward to students like me who were from rural communities and who were training to become special education teachers in rural areas,” said Hudson, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Foundations and Special Education in the Clemmer College of Education.
Before pursuing a master’s degree, Hudson spent six years as a special education teacher in rural Eastern Kentucky in the state’s poorest county. She recalls being responsible for overseeing the same classroom with students who were severely intellectually challenged as well as those who were not as challenged. During her first year as a teacher, she had no instructional assistance.
As a faculty member at ETSU, Hudson has been involved in research activity that focuses on helping rural special education teachers implement best-practice strategies in the classroom. Through a project in 2015 funded by the Tennessee Board of Regents, Hudson offered professional development instruction to 1st – 3rd grade teachers in Unicoi County on improving writing skills for students who are from low socioeconomic backgrounds, are identified as having learning difficulties or are English-language learners – populations identified as being at greater risk for academic failure in the area of writing expression.
“This proved to be very effective and we saw students in first grade be able to write paragraphs,” said Hudson, who has already presented findings of the project at national meetings.
In addition to her research, Hudson has created a new graduate certificate program in the Clemmer College of Education. The program offers instruction in Response to Intervention (RTI), which has been adopted by many states and school districts across the nation. This field of study focuses on the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs.
The certificate program is the first of its kind in Tennessee and will accept its first class this fall.
While at the University of Kentucky, Hudson completed her dissertation research on RTI. Her work was highlighted in the journal Education Week, and it also earned her one of two Visiting Distinguished Faculty Awards from the university.
Hudson was recently appointed managing editor of Rural Special Education Quarterly.