About | Courses | International Initiatives | Publications | Links | Home


A Chemist by profession, my life changed when I volunteered to work with individuals with severe disabilities in a 'residential' setting in Singapore in the early eighties.

It was through the experience I gained from volunteering that I developed a deep interest and passion to build a career out of working with individuals with special needs.

I applied to be a teacher in special education, due, in a large part, to the message behind the profession: "Make a difference, TEACH!!" which also happened to be the slogan that was used to attract future teachers.

I am proud to be in this profession. Over those years in Singapore, the experiences I gained as a teacher and as an Assistant Principal lead me to Higher Education -- Teacher Education. I have enjoyed, and continue to enjoy every minute of this change in profession -- from chemist to teaching to teacher education.


Ph.D.: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, United States

M.A. Educational Management: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

B.Sc.: Karnatak University, India


1. September 2008- September 2012  

Co-Principal Investigator
Early Reading First Promising Beginnings !
Source:  US Department of Education
Amount: $ 4,024,946.00

2. October 2006-October 2009                       

Co-Principal Investigator
Early Reading First I Can Read!
Source:  US Department of Education
Amount: $ 3,404,137.00


Lee Honors College Distinguished Service Award, May 2015.
Western Michigan University.

College of Education Mary L. Dawson Excellence in Teaching Award, April 2007. Western Michigan University

Teaching Academy BAUM AWRAD, Honorable Mention & Runner-up, Teaching Assistant Excellence Award 2001-2002, April 2002. University of Arkansas.


The Reading Teacher. Journal of International Reading association.

Journal of Literacy Research, (JLR): An interdisciplinary journal publishing research related to literacy, language, and schooling from preschool through adulthood.

Action in Teacher Education Journal, (ATE): Journal of the Association of Teacher Educators.

Preventing School Failure

NASHA Dialog: A Research to Practice Journal for the Early Childhood Field

Southeastern Regional Association of Teacher Educators (SRATE) Journal: Journal of the Southeastern Regional Association of teacher Educators (2004-2008).

Journal of International Special Needs Education(JISNE): Journal of The Division of International Special Education Services of The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)


American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD)

Association of Teacher Educators (ATE)

American Association of University professors (AAUP), Western Michigan University Chapter

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

Division of International Special Education and Services  (DISES) of Council for Exceptional Children

Division on Developmental Disabilities (DDD) of Council for  Exceptional Children

Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of Council for  Exceptional Children

Teacher Education Division (TED) of Council for Exceptional Children.

The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps (TASH)


Dr. Shaila Rao

4813 Sangren Hall | Phone: 269-387-2470 | Fax: 269-387-5703 | shaila.rao@wmich.edu