UNC Charlotte Alumna Takes Data Down Under to Spread Best Practices in Education

Date Published: 
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wherever she is in the world, UNC Charlotte alumna Bree Jimenez is devoted to sharing cutting-edge special education research with her colleagues.

Dr. Jimenez recently relocated to Sydney, Australia, where she is a Visiting Research Consultant at Mater Dei School in Cobbitty in collaboration with the University of Sydney. She will work there into 2019, during which time she will mentor teachers based on research from evidence-based practices. Like other quality special education professors, Jimenez takes an interdisciplinary approach to her work by integrating evidence and clinical expertise – all while keeping students’ needs in mind.

Jimenez has devoted her research to developing curriculum more accessible to students with significant cognitive disabilities. She operates by a principle called the “least dangerous assumption,” the practice of assuming competence in students and teaching to that level to remove limits from their potential growth and helping them gain independence for life beyond the classroom. Jimenez’s research was inspired by her time as a student at UNC Charlotte, where she worked closely with professors to improve teaching practices for students with disabilities.

A veteran special education teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Jimenez earned her Master of Education in Curriculum and Supervision in 2004. She concluded her education at UNC Charlotte with a PhD in Special Education, completed in 2010. While a student at UNC Charlotte, Jimenez served as Lead Research Associate for Project MASTERY for the Department of Special Education and Child Development. Project MASTERY focused on developing better math and science teaching practices for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Dr. Diane Browder, Lake and Edward Snyder Distinguished Professor of Special Education at UNC Charlotte, notes Dr. Jimenez’s lasting contributions to her field: “She has created important innovations in teaching academics to students with moderate and severe disabilities. She led the creation of one of the first early numeracy curricula for these students and continues to do groundbreaking work in adapting mathematics for all learners. School systems across the nation, and now internationally, seek her help in professional development to bring her innovative ideas to their students.” 

With her recent move to Sydney, Jimenez continues to research the best ways to develop appropriate curricula and teaching practices for students with cognitive disabilities. Her goal is to enable teachers around the world to benefit from her work: “I believe there’s a way to contribute to the field of special education internationally because if we try something, and if we have data to support it, we can share that with other teachers around the world.”


The Ph.D. program in Special Education at UNC Charlotte prepares special educators as innovators, teachers, leaders, and researchers whose work contributes to enhancing the quality of life of individuals who are exceptional learners and their families.  This program provides the solid research foundation needed for the rapidly changing field of special education. The doctoral program has been rated by the Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the top ten nationally.

by: Melody Vaughn

Photo: Mater Dei School, Cobbitty, Australia.