2019 Douglas Hiltunen Award Cristina Santamaría Graff, IUPUI

Dr. Santanmaría Graff is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at IUPUI. She is a former bilingual education and bilingual special education teacher who is currently interested in the ways in which culture, language, and ability intersect in school systems. Her experiences as an educator have guided her toward research centered on Latinx immigrant families of children with disabilities. Her wide-ranging creativity shines through in all of her projects.

Through her community-based research project Family as Faculty, families are positioned as experts or “faculty.” They co-plan and teach special education university courses centered on families’ issues, rights, and challenges in special education.

Santamaría Graff describes the importance of the project, “preliminary data demonstrate that pre-service teachers increased their understanding of culturally responsive practices in relation to parents whose first language is not English and that pre-service teachers were impacted by the stories shared by parents, particularly parents from historically marginalized racial, ethnic, and/or linguistic backgrounds.”