Dr. Heather Googe serves as the Principal Investigator for SCPI. In this role, Dr. Googe works with SCPI’s funders and the University of South Carolina to ensure SCPI meets grant compliance and reporting requirements. Dr. Googe also works as a Research Assistant Professor at the UofSC Child Development Research Center and as the Director and Principal Investigator of the South Carolina Child Care Inclusion Collaborative, as well as the Principal Investigator of the Mix-EC Project. She has over 20 years of experience working in the field of early childhood special education and holds a Ph.D. in Special Education.
Program Director and Co-Principal Investigator
Kerri Kannengieser is the Program Director and Co-PI for SCPI. In this position, Kerri oversees the day-to-day operations of SCPI, facilitates strategic planning, supervises staff & the delivery of technical assistance, and works with SCPI’s PI to meet grant compliance and reporting requirements.
Kerri holds an M.S. in Special Education and has over 15 years of experience in the special education field. She has worked for the University of South Carolina’s Child Development Research Center since 2016 when SCPI was in its inception. Kerri is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Division for Early Childhood (DEC). She is also a Certified Child Care Trainer in South Carolina, a member of the Pyramid PIECES State Leadership Team, and serves on the South Carolina Advisory Council for Educating Students with Disabilities (ACESD) as the co-chair of the Preschool Committee.
Dr. Kate Ascetta is an assistant professor of Early Childhood Special Education. Before pursuing her Ph.D. at University of Oregon, she worked in a variety of settings with young children and early childhood teachers. She began as an early childhood special education teacher for young children who had experienced trauma. Prior to beginning her doctoral program, she was an assistant principal at a Head Start program.
Ascetta's research interests include the development and assessment of effective instructional practices, specifically online, that promotes professional growth in teachers and leads to increased language and communication skills in young children. She studies interventions designed to promote language-rich classrooms environments and increase the sustained use of evidence-based practices in early childhood classrooms.
Technical Assistance Team
Technical Assistance Coordinator
Technical Assistance Specialist
Dana Bennett serves as a Technical Assistance Specialist with SCPI. In this position, she provides training and technical assistance to districts to increase their use of evidence-based practices that support the inclusion of young children with disabilities in early learning programs.
Dana holds a M.Ed. and has 18 years of experience teaching in the public school system. She has also served as a family childcare teacher and an Inclusion Specialist. Dana was also awarded the 2019 Council for Exceptional Children Special Educator of the Year Award for the state of South Carolina.
Technical Assistance Specialist
We are hiring for a new Technical Assistance Specialist! Click the link below for more information on position responsibilities and to apply!
Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) Coach
Tanya Hutchinson serves as the Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) Coach. In this role, she supports school districts who have completed the SEIT Academy as they implement the special education itinerant model in preschool programs within their district.
Tanya holds an MA in Early Childhood Education with over 25 years in early childhood education, 15 of those years being an Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) Itinerant teacher. She has mentored first-year ECSE teachers and site-supervised student teachers in the field of ECSE. She holds teaching licenses in South Carolina, Early Childhood (EC) (Pk-3rd grade), ECSE (3-5 years old) and Colorado EC (0-8 years old), and ECSE Specialist (0-8).
Pyramid PIECES Team
Pyramid Model Coordinator
Jennifer Harrist serves as the Pyramid Model Coordinator for the Pyramid PIECES State Leadership Team (SLT), a cross-collaborative initiative that promotes social emotional well-being for infants, young children, and their families. In this role, she coordinates & facilitates the work of the SLT and supports the work of the professional development network as they provide training and program coaching to implement the Pyramid Model with fidelity.
Jennifer has over 7 years of experience in K-12 education. She holds a M.Ed. and is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research with experience in social-emotional learning, constructivist learning environments, and whole child education.
Pyramid Model Implementation Coach
Nichole Hudgens serves as the Pyramid Model Implementation Coach with SCPI’s Pyramid PIECES team. In this role, Nichole supports early childhood programs within South Carolina’s school districts to build their capacity to implement Pyramid Model practices with fidelity.
Prior to joining SCPI, Nichole served as an Inclusion Specialist with the SC Inclusion Collaborative for four years. She holds a M.Ed. in Education and has taught pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and upper elementary school. Nichole is also a Certified Trainer and Technical Assistance Provider with the SC Endeavors.
Courtney Trammell serves as the Communications Coordinator for SCPI. In this position, she works to generate awareness of SCPI's activities by facilitating content for SCPI's social media, electronic newsletter, and website. She also supports the Pyramid PIECES team to circulate information about statewide Pyramid Model initiatives and outcomes.
Courtney holds a BAJMC in Mass Communications from the University of South Carolina and is currently pursuing an MMC in Strategic Communication Management at the University of South Carolina.
Graduate Research Assistant
Jackie Viotto serves as a Graduate Research Assistant with SCPI. In this role, she coordinates Brown Bag events for the Early Childhood Higher Education Inclusion Consortium, analyzes data pertaining to Pyramid Model practices and pre-service teachers, and collects data for the SEIT Academy.
Jackie holds a BS in Childhood Studies from Plymouth State University and an M.Ed. in Learning Disabilities from Francis Marion University. She is currently a Ph.D. student in Special Education at the University of South Carolina. She has five years of experience as a special education resource teacher and a focus on teacher professional development for inclusive education for students with disabilities in the general education setting.