B.A., Psychology, Texas State University, 2007
Alexandra (Alex) Van Zandt’s service in public education spanned over a decade in Austin, Texas and included teaching both general and special education and response to intervention in elementary grades, and post-secondary transition to young adults with exceptionalities. Curriculum development, cultivation of community engagement, and person-centered planning for young adults with exceptionalities is a focus both professionally and personally. She continues to provide consulting and advocate services for individuals with exceptionalities and their families in the area of behavior and the four domains of independent living, vocation, continuing education, and recreation/leisure.
Alex began working with Western as an adjunct instructor and course developer for the Education Department in 2019 and is now a faculty member serving as a clinical coach, lecturer, and the program coordinator for special education. She enjoys leading students who are seeking the knowledge and skills required to address the individual needs of all learners, and is a proponent for the crucial practices of self-reflection and continuous learning in the education profession. Her passions include the brain and behavior, nature’s role in the world of autism, and the construction of learning environments based on multiple variables. Additionally, she owns and operates, “Gunni Gal,” an aquaponic farm that serves the Gunnison Valley.
How did you discover Western?
During one of our numerous trips to the Valley, my late husband and I were backstage at a Dale Watson concert at the I-Bar and I was introduced to Janice Welborn, former Director of Sponsored Programs. We chatted about our plans to move to Gunnison and she spoke highly of Western and suggested I reach out to the Education Department.
What are some of the highlights of your career?
Relationships with students, both in K-12 and university settings. Teaching is not meant to be a solitary journey and it’s all the more meaningful when connections are authentic.
What most excites you about your field?
The field of education is not static. Just as humans, environments, and circumstances change, so must our field. In order to commit to continuous improvement, everyone working in this arena must practice the somewhat tedious and often uncomfortable task of self-reflection. When we want to see change, we have to first start with ourselves. This concept of identifying how we impact absolutely everything and everyone we interact with is both humbling and a call to action. I like that.
What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?
Fully experiencing each of the four seasons; the specific fragrance of the Gunnison River; the rocks and colors in the Taylor Canyon; opportunities to quickly be where no one else is and be totally surrounded by nature; wildflowers in the summer; all the places I’ve yet to see, yet know are there just waiting to be discovered; and the rich history of hard working people who shaped this Valley.
- EDUC 406: Content Area Literacy
- EDUC 602: Literacy Assessment and Informed Instruction
- EDUC 606: Reading and Writing in the Content Areas
- EDUC 611: Strategies for Teaching Students with Exceptionalities
- EDUC 612: Assessment and Programming
- EDUC 614: Inclusivity with Collaboration
- EDUC 615: Teaching Students with Exceptionalities
- EDUC 617: Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency in the Content Area
- EDUC 627: Exploring Educational Technology
- EDUC 628: Pedagogies for English Learners
- EDUC 629: Inclusion and English Learners
- EDUC 630: Inclusivity in the Content Areas
- EDUC 631: Inclusive Methods for Literacy
- EDUC 632: Overview of Exceptional Services
- EDUC 633: Differentiated Literacy Assessment
- EDUC 669: Formal and Informal Methods of Assessment
- EDUC 681: Instructional Program Evaluation
- EDUC 682: Shaping School Culture