Change Agent | A champion of students with disabilities

Posted on March 07, 2022

Diane Ryndak interacting with student in wheel chair

Original Story, written by Margaret Moffitt, is available from our Transform Magazine.

Ask Dr. Diane Ryndak what nearly a half-century of research has taught her about students with intellectual disabilities. Just ask her, and the professor of special education in the School of Education’s Department of Specialized Education Services (SES) will tell you what people can achieve when they feel empowered to find their voice in contexts that are meaningful to them.

Dr. Diane Ryndak and her graduate student meet with a client.
Dr. Diane Ryndak meets with her graduate student Kristin Burnette.

She’ll tell you about Jesus, who learned to talk with classmates after years of sitting silent. And Michelle, who became an attentive, conscientious student at the age of 15 despite a history of throwing books and kicking kids under the table. And Teo and Marco and Thomas, too.

With story after story, Ryndak reveals why she’s one of the nation’s most passionate advocates for inclusive education for all students, while focusing on providing research based services for students with severe disabilities in traditional classrooms.

“With every student with severe disabilities, in every school where we have
worked, as soon as the teachers moved them out of a self-contained setting into an inclusive general education setting, the changes just happened,” says Ryndak, who joined UNCG’s faculty in 2014. “You just see the difference. Once people see the better outcomes, they say, ‘Why aren’t we doing this with other students currently in self-contained settings?’ ”

Read more in our Transform Magazine. Explore the pages of this annual publication and discover how the work of our faculty, students, and alumni is having an impact not only at UNC Greensboro, but in our community, nation, and world.