Skip to this page's content

Success Profiles

Richard D. Lavoie, M.A., M.Ed., Visiting Professor, Special Education

Mindful of Excellence

Lavoie is an internationally recognized expert and consultant on learning disabilities.

Visiting Professor Rick Lavoie has been advocating for children with special needs nearly his whole life. "When I was 10 years old, I had a family member with severe special needs and I could always reach him and teach him in ways others couldn't," explained Lavoie. "This ability became a moving force in my life; it became a mission for me."

Lavoie pursued that mission by working at summer camps for kids with special needs and after high school went on to earn three academic degrees in special education. Now Lavoie is an internationally recognized expert and consultant on learning disabilities. He has taught at numerous universities, including Syracuse, Harvard, Gallaudet, Georgetown, Manhattanville College, and the University of Alabama and has consulted for agencies and organizations, including the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the New York Times, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and the Girl Scouts of America. He has also appeared on "Good Morning America," "ABC Evening News" and the Disney Channel.

As a Visiting Professor at Simmons, Lavoie teaches weekend and week-long seminars on behavior management and social skills. "The courses are exhausting, but stimulating and intensive," says Lavoie. "We can really delve into the topic without looking at the clock. And, I am able to get to know my students well."

Those students are the primary reason Lavoie finds teaching at Simmons so satisfying. "The students here are mindful of excellence. They want to learn and they ask questions. By their questions, I come to know what challenges they face as teachers in the schools where I consult. Conversely, when I consult, I learn about successful programs and approaches that I bring back to the students. My work at Simmons makes me a better consultant, and my consultancy makes me a better instructor."

"There is a great deal teachers can do to affect the social skills of special education students," explains Lavoie. "It's my job to teach them the pragmatic stuff that they can bring back into the classroom on Monday."