Faculty Focus | Kristy Calo, Ph.D., Discusses Education Grant

Kristy Calo, Ph.D.

Associate professors for education at Hood College, Tricia Strickland, Ph.D. and Kristy Calo, Ph.D were recently awarded a $45,000 grant from the Maryland State Department of Education.

Kristy Calo, Ph.D.


  • Curriculum and Instruction (M.S.)


  • Education

Can you provide a brief bio and background?

I have been part of the education community in a range of positions for the past 30 years. I have taught in higher education as well as at the elementary and middle school levels. I’ve been a Title I school administrator and a district administrator in Curriculum & Professional Development.

Along with my experiences in public education, I have also worked in educational publishing. I moved to the DC area to work for National Geographic as the Marketing Director in their school publishing division. I also worked as the Education & Research Director for an online education platform for young children and their families.

My varied experiences in public education, educational publishing, and higher education give me a unique view of teaching and learning in the 21st century. I currently act as the Hood College program director for the Curriculum & Instruction graduate program.

How long have you been teaching at Hood College?

I have been teaching at Hood College in the Department of Education for seven years (January 2009-2012 and 2016-present).

How did this grant proposal came about?

One of the programs that I teach in at Hood College is the Elementary Education/Special Education dual certification program. Tricia Strickland, Ph.D. is the program coordinator for that program. My passion is literacy education, and I come from a general education background. Dr. Strickland’s passions are special education and mathematics education. We are both passionate about ensuring that the individual needs of students are met.

The grant we received from the Maryland State Department of Education focuses on effectively using specially designed instruction in co-taught classrooms, with a primary focus on literacy and mathematics. Our partnership is a blend of discipline expertise as well as a bridge between the perspectives of the general educator and the special educator in a co-taught classroom.

What was your vision when applying for this grant, and how do you hope to use it?

The need to improve outcomes for students with disabilities in Maryland is clear. According to the Maryland Report Card (2018), only 14% of students with disabilities earned a proficient score on the Grade 3 mathematics assessment, compared to 42.3% of all students. This mathematics achievement gap continues to grow throughout elementary and middle school. 

Ultimately, these are dismal findings and represent a need to improve mathematics and ELA outcomes for students with disabilities. Dr. Strickland and I believe that co-teaching is a viable method for providing students with disabilities access to the general education curriculum as well as specially designed instruction as outlined in their IEPs.

The generous funding provided by Maryland State Department of Education will provide Dr. Strickland and I the opportunity to survey FCPS teachers and administrators about specially-designed instruction (SDI) and conduct follow-up focus groups to find out what current and future teachers need to know, understand, and be able to do as it relates to SDI.

How will this grant benefit the Hood Department of Education?

The grant will benefit not only the teacher candidates in our education programs, but also their mentor teachers out in Hood’s Professional Development Schools. Our mentor teachers consistently have strong connections to Hood, both through our undergraduate and graduate programs.

The content from our training seminar, the fidelity checklist, and the demonstration site will be accessible to students in our undergraduate and graduate education programs. Our goal is to promote positive outcomes for all children by ensuring that our local education community understands what specially-designed instruction is and how to effectively plan for, implement, and monitor it.

What do you most enjoy about teaching at Hood College?

I thoroughly enjoy the students that I have the privilege of working with every day both at the graduate and undergraduate level. I love building positive relationships with them and supporting them as they move through their education program. I also have an absolutely wonderful team of colleagues in the education department!

To learn more about Hood College graduate programs, including the Curriculum & Instruction M.S. program, click here.