About Project IMPACT

Project IMPACT: Inclusion Made Practical for all Children and Teachers  

Project Team Members:

Shawnee Wakeman, PhD

Clinical Professor and Principal Investigator

A clinical professor in the department of special education and child development at University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Dr. Wakeman worked for 10 years as a classroom teacher, including time in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system. Dr. Wakeman’s research interests are accessing the general curriculum and how that's enacted for students with significant cognitive disabilities in a variety of settings. Dr. Wakeman also works with special education teacher preparation programs and have research edTPA. Dr. Wakeman has led several projects with Project IMPACT being one of those projects. She also works with the T.I.E.S. center as well as a project called 5E related to science instruction for students with moderate to severe intellectual disability.

Robert Pennington, PhD, BCBA-D

Lake & Edward J. Snyder, Jr. Distinguished Professor in Special Education, Co-Investigator

Professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Dr. Pennington has over 30 years of experience working with individuals with disabilities, their families, and teachers. Most of Dr. Pennington’s work involves behavior analytic communication instruction, expanding students' repertoire with written expression, and improving educational programs for students with extensive support needs. Dr. Pennington continues to publish and present, often about those topics. He also takes every effort to support the important works of others as a member of several editorial and project advisory boards.

Alicia Saunders, PhD

Adjunct Professor, Research Associate, Co-Investigator

A co-principal investigator for Project IMPACT and an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Dr. Saunders’s research primarily focuses on general curriculum access for students with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. She has co-authored five mathematics curricula, enjoys writing research articles and book chapters about general curriculum access, and providing professional development to teachers around the country.

Lynn Algrhim-Delzell, PhD

Data Analyst

A Professor Emeritus of Research at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with over 20 years of experience conducting research on issues pertinent to individuals with moderate-to-severe developmental disability. She teaches Master’s and doctoral level courses on research methods and statistics. She is passionate about encouraging teachers to use action research to evaluate their instructional practices. Her current research interests include literacy development and assessment, access to academic content, and research methods for individuals with moderate-to-severe developmental disability. She is co-author of the Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB) and the Nonverbal Literacy Assessment (NVLA). She served as the co-Principal Investigator on a contract from the Institute for Education Sciences, US Department of Education to develop a software-based curriculum called the Early Reading Skills Builder (ERSB), a phonics curriculum for students who are nonverbal.

Brett Cerrato, MS

Research Associate, Adjunct Professor

Research Associate for Project IMPACT and adjunct professor in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s master’s program. Mr. Cerrato has supported students with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder in many roles. He has been a paraprofessional, lead teacher Charlotte-Mecklenburg for the extensions program at the elementary and middle school levels. Mr. Cerrato also supported students across the district by working with teachers to increase their use of research-based instructional practices, develop coaching plans with teachers, and work with families and schools to develop individualized education plans (IEPs).


Project IMPACT has partnered with Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools during the 2019-2020 school year to implement the first iteration of the project model. Please check the page frequently for new information, resources, and updates on the project.

Project IMPACT is funded by the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Grant Award Number: H326M180005. Materials housed on this page are those of the authors and do not represent views of the OSEP or the U.S. Department of Education.