Instant Impact

News from Baylor School of Education

New Faculty Members Join Baylor School of Education [09/15/2017]


The School of Education welcomed five new full-time faculty members for the 2017-18 academic year, including additions in each academic department. A couple are familiar faces, while others are new to Baylor.

Jessica Akers, PhD, BCBA-D
Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology
Department of Educational Psychology
PhD: Utah State University, Special Education, Applied Behavior Analysis
MA: California State University, Fresno, Applied Behavior Analysis
BA: California State University, Fresno, Psychology
Post-doctoral fellowship: University of Nebraska Medical Center

Dr. Jessica Akers has worked with children with autism and related disabilities in home-, center-, and school-based programs targeting both skill acquisition and the reduction of challenging behavior.

Her research interests include strategies for promoting appropriate social and play skills and verbal behavior in individuals with autism and related disabilities. She is primarily interested in targeting appropriate play between children with autism and their typically developing peers and siblings. She has published her research in journals including the Journal of Applied Behavior AnalysisLearning and Motivation, and The Analysis of Verbal Behavior.

Kevin Magill, PhD
Assistant Professor of Secondary Education
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
PhD: University of Texas, Education/Social Studies Education
MA: University of California Davis, Teaching Practice
MPA: California State University, Public Administration
BA: California State University, Communication Studies

Dr. Kevin Magill’s areas of interest and specialization include Social Studies Education, Cultural Studies, Teacher Education, Critical Theory/Pedagogy, Literacy, and Reform/Policy Analysis. Broadly, his research examines the relationship between ontology, ideology, and pedagogy among pre- and in-service teachers. He explores how these factors relate in the teaching of civics, social studies, and the connection to community knowledge. His most recent scholarly work is a book published with Professor Arturo Rodriguez, Imagining Education: Beyond the Logic and Learning in Neoliberal Capitalism, an edited volume in which authors explore visions for education beyond the ideologies currently limiting authentic human relationships in classrooms.

Previously, Magill was an instructor at the University of Texas at Austin and worked as a teacher in public, private, middle, and high school contexts. He taught Social Studies, English Language Arts and Opportunity/Intervention in California.

Kristen Padilla-Mainor, EdS, LSSP, BCBA
Clinical Assistant Professor and
Director of the Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities
Department of Educational Psychology
PhD: Baylor University, Expected 2019
EDS: Baylor University, School Psychology
BA: University of Texas, Sociology/Psychology

Kristen Padilla-Mainor has been at Baylor since she began her EDS studies in 2007, moving into professional roles for the School of Education including leadership of the Baylor Autism Resource Clinic and the Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities (BCDD), of which she became director in 2016. She joined the ranks of full-time faculty in January 2017.

As Director of the BCDD, Padilla-Mainor supervises graduate students specializing in school psychology and applied behavior analysis who provide intervention and assessment services. She serves as the parent and community liaison, coordinates programming efforts, and works with local agencies to provide trainings in working with children with autism spectrum disorder and behavioral difficulties. She collaborates with faculty from the Diana Garland School of Social Work to supervise social work interns at the BCDD to provide family support services. Padilla-Mainor also teaches graduate courses in ethics for behavior analysis, practicum in school psychology and applied behavior analysis, and teaching children with autism and developmental disabilities.

Padilla-Mainor and Dr. Tonya Davis are the principle investigators for a $350,000 contract awarded from the Waco Independent School District to provide behavioral support. They are leading a team of faculty members and graduate students to train campus faculty and staff to implement school-wide positive behavior supports and provide direct intervention services to children exhibiting severe problematic behaviors.

Karen Rue, EdD
Clinical Professor in K-12 Educational Leadership
Department of Educational Leadership
EdD: Texas A&M, Educational Administration
MEd: Lamar University, Educational Administration
BA: University of Southwestern Louisiana, Education (Grades 1-8)

Dr. Karen Rue is retired as superintendent of Northwest ISD and also served as superintendent of Tuloso-Midway ISD. She has 37 total years of experience in education. At a local and national level, Dr. Rue has been active in leading and creating a transformational shift in education, with a focus on preparing future-ready students, encouraging innovation and creativity, and developing more meaningful assessment and accountability measures. Rue has served as president of both the Texas Association of School Administrators and the Urban Superintendents of America Association.

Rue was a founding member of the Public Education Visioning Institute and served as co-chair of the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium. She was named a 2016 AASA Women in School Leadership Award Finalist, the 2014 Region XI Superintendent of the Year, selected to participate in Classroom Connectivity in Texas at the Governor’s Mansion and in the Connected Superintendents Summit at the White House, chosen as a finalist in the eSchool News Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards program, and named one of the nation’s Top 50 Innovators in Education by the Center for Digital Education.

Sandra Talbert, EdD
Clinical Assistant Professor and Secondary Education Coordinator
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
EdD: Tarleton State University, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
MEd: Sam Houston State University, Educational Leadership/School Administration
BA: Stephen F. Austin, Communications and English

Dr. Sandra Talbert brings 30 years of educational experience to the Baylor School of Education. Retired as superintendent of a Texas 4A public school district, Talbert served as a visiting faculty member in 2016-17 before joining the faculty on a permanent basis.

Her service in education has ranged from elementary schools to the college level, including roles as teacher, assistant principal, principal, superintendent, professor, and state-wide trainer.

Talbert is known as an instructional leader who has a deep understanding of curriculum and a commitment to sharing that information through intentional and practical staff development, workshops, and keynote addresses. She has a unique ability to engage those she teaches and is known for creating and maintaining a positive, rich learning environment and culture in the organizations in which she serves.

The School of Education is currently searching to fill eight faculty positions for the fall 2018 term. For more information, visit

For more news from Baylor School of Education, visit the Instant Impact home page.


Founded in 1919, Baylor School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. The School’s research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.