WHO WE ARE

The CRUE center is a collection of individuals committed to transforming education into a socially just experience for all involved. With diverse backgrounds centered in equity work, we are available to work with you as consultants and trainers.

Shelley Zion, Ph.D.
Dr. Zion currently works at the University of Colorado Denver as the Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Education for the School of Education. In addition to that role, she teaches graduate level courses in the teacher education program, conducts research on topics related to school reform and equity, and serves as the executive director of the CRUE center. The CRUE center provides technical assistance and training to schools and districts who are working to address issues of equity in their schools—achievement gaps, disproportionality in special education, disproportionality in discipline, and gaps in graduation and dropout. From 2002-2007, Dr. Zion served as the associate director of two national projects housed at UCD- The National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRESt) and the National Institute for Urban School Improvement (NIUSI). These projects focused on eliminating disproportionality in special education, and on creating inclusive classroom environments. Dr. Zion has conducted both quantitative and qualitative research in areas of culturally responsive practice, disproportionality, systems change, school reform, student voice, family involvement, truancy prevention, and delinquency interventions.

Suzanne Arnold, Ph.D.
Dr. Suzanne Arnold received her doctorate from the University of Colorado, Boulder in Research on Teaching and Teacher Education, specializing in Curriculum and Instruction in Content Areas. Her dissertation study analyzed the relationship between teacher beliefs, classroom milieu, subject matter, and enactment in bridging the language gap in the science classroom for English language learners; examining the extent to which teachers take on a dual role as teachers promoting English language and content proficiency. Dr. Arnold has more than 20 years of experience in education working as a high school science educator, professional development designer and facilitator, educational researcher and teacher educator. Her previous work with NCCRESt and NIUSI focused on providing technical assistance and professional development training to districts and state departments of education on culturally responsive educational systems, practices, and pedagogy. Her expertise is in instruction and curriculum in content areas and professional development. Her research interests include literacy and content integration, educational equity issues, and culturally responsive teaching and curriculum development.

CompuGirls Team


Deirdre J. Morgenthaler, M.A.
Curriculum Advisor
Dee is a Doctoral Candidate of Educational Studies & Research at the University of Colorado Denver School of Education and Human Development. She holds a Master's Degree in Communication and was an Instructor for the Department of Communication at UCD for 5 years before becoming the Curriculum Advisor for CompuGirls in May of 2012. Her research interests include media literacy, teaching in online environments, curriculum development, and culturally responsive pedagogy. She lives in Castle Rock with her husband and two daughters.

Tara Raju, M.S.W.
Denver Program Coordinator
Tara Raju has over 15 years of experience in education, K-12 and postsecondary, and the non-profit sector. She has worked with college students at Reed College and the University of Pennsylvania using traditional and experiential learning to teach leadership, diversity, skills for activism and social responsibility. In Chicago, Tara worked with Communities In Schools, Inc. (CIS) for 6 years, first, as the director of operations, then as a national CIS trainer. She worked with Chicago Public Schools to create systemic change and a comprehensive approach to better serve schools and communities through collaboration and partnerships. As a CIS national trainer, she trained CIS affiliates in various areas of nonprofit management.

Most recently, Tara was the Project Director for Education for the Anti-Defamation League's Mountain States (CO/WY) Region and was responsible for anti-bias education for teachers, community organizations, campus work, law enforcement officers and Holocaust Education. She earned her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in African and Afro-American Studies and Political Science from Washington University, St. Louis.

Ashley Babjack, Program Assistant
Ashley is a native of El Paso, Texas. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with minors in History, Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. She is currently in the Counseling Psychology master’s program at University of Colorado-Denver on the Couple and Family Therapy track. She has been a Graduate Assistant serving various Grant projects for the School of Education and Human Development since March 2012. She currently serves as a Clinical Intern with Jefferson Center for Mental Health in the Family Outpatient Services department. Ashley will graduate in May 2013.

Shannon Casler, Research Assistant
Shannon is a Colorado native, born and raised in the town of Littleton. She received her Bachelors degree in Business Management at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and is now pursuing her Masters degree in the Elementary Teacher Education program at the University of Colorado Denver. She is a Graduate/Research Assistant for CompuGirls, where she assists in tracking hours, data entry, and performing interviews with teen girls for the program. She lives in Denver with her soon-to-be husband and has an identical twin sister who lives in Colorado Springs.


CCI Team


Faculty Affiliates


Margarita Bianco, Ed.D.
Margarita Bianco received her doctorate degree in Exceptional Student Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has nearly 20 years of classroom teaching experience, most of which was in urban settings, working with students with disabilities and English language learners. Her research interests include gifted students from underrepresented populations including twice-exceptional students and culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

Dr. Bianco received the 2004 Outstanding Researcher Award from the Council for Learning Disabilities for her research on the effects of disability labels on teachers' recommendations for gifted programs. Dr. Bianco is currently working at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center.

Kara Mitchell, Ph.D.
Kara Mitchell received her PhD from Boston College in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on language and literacy. Her dissertation explored the policy and practice of educating multilingual learners as well as their teachers in Massachusetts. She has actively advocated for improved educational opportunities for multilingual learners on both the national and local stage and is committed to striving for systemic improvements in education for multilingual learners and students of color.

Bryan Wee, Ph.D.
Dr. Wee is from Singapore but has spent considerable time in the U.S. as an undergraduate and graduate student. In addition to his academic background, Bryan has been involved in nature conservation both in Singapore (National Parks Board) and in the U.S. (Department of Natural Resources and Nature Conservancy). His interest in exploring how children make sense of the environment across cultures and societies stems from his experiences growing up in a highly urbanized setting where the world is viewed through multiple lenses. Consequently, Bryan's research and teaching agenda is focus on developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of human-environment interactions. Related areas of research/teaching include multiculturalism in environmental science and environmental literacy.