UCA Mashburn Center for Learning



J. D. Mashburn, M.D.

“…to give you the vision that the ultimate goal of true education is to plant the seed of self worth in the heart of each student.”

The Mission


The UCA Mashburn Center for Learning creates resources and opportunities that empower Arkansas teachers to promote a sense of purpose, hope, academic achievement, and resilience for all learners as they experience barriers to learning.

Dr. J. D. Mashburn of Silver Spring, Md., attended the University of Central Arkansas for three years. He completed his pre-medical coursework in 1949. During this period, he also met, and later proposed to and married, the former Mary Lou Johnson. Following graduation at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Dr. Mashburn established a private medical practice in Rison, Arkansas. He also completed a residency in Pathology from the University of Tennessee after serving his country in the military. He later became Assistant Chief of the Laboratories at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition, he held a joint appointment as Assistant Clinical Professor of Pathology at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Mashburn traveled south to Memphis where he was appointed Assistant Chief of Laboratories at the Methodist Hospital in Memphis, and held a joint appointment as Assistant Clinical Professor of Pathology at the University of Tennessee. From there, he went to Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Maryland, where he retired as Director of Laboratories.  While Dr. Mashburn distinguished himself in the medical profession, he distinguished himself even more with his appetite to champion struggling learners. Dr. Mashburn understood the trials and triumphs of the struggling learner because of his intimate knowledge of the challenges associated with those diagnosed with a learning disability.

In 1991, Dr. and Mrs. Mashburn established in collaboration with the University of Central Arkansas, the Christine Greenhaw Mashburn Institute on Learning Disabilities to honor his mother and to help classroom teachers use exemplary practices in teaching students with learning disabilities. Dr. Mashburn’s vision for students, his hope for education, and his support for new programs at UCA, has touched the lives of hundreds of educators and thousands of students.

Mashburn Center for Learning


The University of Central Arkansas’ Mashburn Center for Learning strives to become a beacon of hope for struggling learners from early childhood through college age students in the state of Arkansas. At the present time, UCA’s Mashburn Center for Learning works in close partnership with the ADE to use research-validated methodologies for teachers and students in school districts across Arkansas. This professional development intervention is designed to prepare teachers and students to maximize academic success. However, an insufficiency of funding support prevents a full-scale effort necessary to combat the very pervasive, full-scale crises. Subsequently, the University of Central Arkansas’ Mashburn Center for Learning proposes the following strategic initiatives for developing a center designed to be a statewide beacon of hope for struggling learners. Of course, a full-scale effort cannot be limited to the partnership between the university and the ADE. It must also include legislators, policy-makers, civic leaders, school district educators, family stakeholders, and the business community. The vision and mission of UCA’s Mashburn Center for Learning can help meet this statewide-crises with additional funding support.

Vision: We share the dream that every Arkansas institution will have all educators trained in research-validated methodologies designed to help academically struggling learners.

Mission Statement: The Mashburn Center for Learning creates resources and opportunities that encourage Arkansas educators to promote a sense of purpose, hope, academic achievement, and resilience for learners who struggle as they experience barriers to learning.

Core Values:

Respect - We will treat all individuals with dignity by seeking to understand their point of view and by being sensitive to their thoughts and feelings.

Integrity – We will apply the highest standards to our work, honor our agreements, and demonstrate honesty in our work with others.

Teamwork – We will value diverse backgrounds and perspectives as we seek solutions to difficult challenges.

Trust – We will trust the intentions and work done by our colleagues/partners.

Solution Focus – We will pursue solutions that affect the quality of life of individuals, especially those individuals who confront significant barriers.

Action – We will promote a mindset where groups and individuals become increasingly aware of needs and take action for meeting those needs.

Recent News

AALI Celebrations!

The UCA Mashburn Center for Learning is proud to announce the certification of 11 new AALI/SIM Professional Developers. Each of these professional developers served in a two-year apprenticeship and fulfilled multiple requirements to reach this accomplishment. These 11 certifications now increase the number of AALI/CER Professional Developers to 33 and AALI/LS Professional Developers to 10. The UCA Mashburn Center for Learning Leadership Team gives a big shout out to all of the AALI/SIM Professional Developers because they are the reason that the AALI continues to thrive!

Arkansas SIM Update

Twenty-five professional developers attended a one-day session on the UCA campus on August 8, 2013, while completing additional activities in a virtual format. Kudos to Arkansas PDers for responding to the opportunity to participate in this specially designed hybrid update. Professional developers were able to view and discuss video segments featuring Jim Knight, Keith Lenz, and Jan Bulgren, all KU-CRL researchers. The discussion was rich and focused on how the information pertained to our work in Arkansas. In the words of Patty Graner, Director of Professional Development at KU-CRL, “The (Arkansas) effort has been concerted and with passion by a few dedicated people.” As part of the leadership team at the Mashburn Center for Learning, I echo Patty Graner’s sentiment. You are awesome men and women, and it is a joy to work side by side with each of you! We hope all of you have a wonderful year filled with countless experiences that bless and enrich your lives and the lives of others.. There is an adage we embrace, “I am as strong as we are.”  The AALI Professional Development team strengthens our ability to help teachers maximize success among struggling learners.

UCA's Mashburn Center for Learning Team

Mark Cooper, Patty Kohler-Evans, Renee Calhoon, Rene’ Crow, and Candice Barnes

The Mashburn team is highly motivated, experienced, and well-qualified. They are highly committed to the Mashburn vision and mission.  It is their desire to forge partnerships with stakeholders in Arkansas to close the achievement gap between students who fail and students who excel. They shall not rest until such gaps are closed.

Mark Cooper

Mark J. Cooper, Ph.D., L.P.C. is a professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Special Education at the University of Central Arkansas, a licensed professional counselor, and Director of the Mashburn Institute. For more than thirty-five years, he has combated the toxicity that interferes with children and adolescents who demonstrate challenging thoughts and behaviors. He advocates a climate of success for struggling learners.

Known better as Dr. Mark, he has been a contributing author to the Autism Asperger’s Digest, a national magazine devoted to children, adolescents, and adults with autism spectrum disorders, and has also written for numerous other journals including Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disorders, Rural Special Education Quarterly, Phi Delta Pi Record, Children and Families, the Journal of Early Education and Family Review, and the National Forum for Educational Administration and Supervision. More recently, Dr. Mark has written the book, Bound and Determined to Help Children with Learning Disabilities Succeed, published by Learning Disabilities Worldwide, Inc. This book of hope provides strategies for helping struggling learners succeed in the classroom and at home. Dr. Mark uses the venues of teaching, counseling, consulting, writing and speaking to help teachers and parents guide, manage, and teach children and adolescents more successfully.

Patty Kohler-Evans

Patty Kohler, Ed. D., is an associate professor at the University of Central Arkansas in the Early Childhood and Special Education Department. As a former teacher, she has worked with students with disabilities for over thirty years.  She was Director of the Division of Exceptional Children in the state’s largest district for nearly twelve years. While there, the district co-hosted the state’s first state–wide conference on inclusion. As a teacher in Washington, Dr. Kohler was recognized for her model classroom for students with significant disabilities.

Dr. Kohler’s research interests include adolescent literacy, inclusive education and meeting the needs of adolescents in various settings. She has published articles on co-teaching and the importance of developing positive relationships with students. She is a Strategic Instruction Model professional developer and works with teachers throughout the state in implementing this model. She also serves as secretary for the Council of Exceptional Children in Arkansas.

Renee Calhoon

Dr. K. Renee Calhoon, Ed.D., is the Director of the Arkansas Adolescent Literacy Intervention for the Mashburn Center for Learning at the University of Central Arkansas.  For over twenty years, she has been involved in promoting the education and support of the whole child in K-12 education.  She supports, assists, and encourages teachers and principals to strive to meet the mental, social, and physical well-being of each student each day.

Renee has been a classroom teacher, basketball coach, assistant principal, building principal. and educational consultant.  She was the principal of a state and national award winning middle school, Cabot Middle School North.  During her period as principal, Cabot Middle School North was chosen as a 2008 Arkansas Diamond School and a National School to Watch.  She also has received awards and honors such as:  2001 Lonoke County Principal of the Year, two time nominee of Arkansas Middle Level Principal of the Year, Administrative Representative on Arkansas Association of Middle Level Educators, Arkansas Middle Level Breaking Ranks Facilitator, and a Certified Strategic Instruction Model Professional Developer. Renee has also been a presenter at both state and national conferences.

Candace Barnes

Candice Dowd Barnes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Special Education at the University of Central Arkansas. She serves as the Program Coordinator for Service-Learning for the Institute for Social Emotional and Service Learning through the Mashburn Center for Learning.  Her specific areas of expertise are in curriculum and assessment development and planning for elementary students, early childhood administration and leadership, and disposition development of university students. She strongly believes in the power of authentic learning experiences for diverse learners at all levels of education and engaging the learner in higher level thinking that reaches beyond the classroom into all aspects of life.


Check out our course on Arkansas Ideas!

Coffman Awarded the J. D. and Mary Lou Mashburn Award

Strategic Instruction Model® and SIM® are registered trademarks of the University of Kansas. SIM® instructional materials are the products of the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. For more information about purchasing SIM materials or obtaining professional development, visit http://kucrl.org.

Coming Soon!
Summer 2014 Leadership Summit and Institute
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Contact information:
Dr. Mark Cooper


Mashburn Center for Learning

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