Dr. Harris is a elementary educator with research interests in the area of supports for military families with children with disabilities. After completing 22 years of active duty Air Force service and a 2-year stint as a defense contractor he decided to pursue a career in education. Elmer did not grow up with aspirations to become a special education teacher. After being notified in 2009 of an impending layoff from his contracting job he contacted the local Troops to Teacher representative for general information about obtaining his masters degree and potential licensing options. When the representative asked Elmer if he’d ever considered working in special education he responded, “No, but I’ll check it out.” It has been full-steam ahead ever since.
In 2013 he was selected as a recipient of a federal leadership development grant through University of Colorado Denver (UCD) and the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. This grant provides funding to facilitate the study of policy issues and collaborative leadership related to early intervention and early childhood special education in the areas of high needs children with special needs, inclusion, and professional development. Elmer’s culminating thesis in his doctoral program, “A Family Partnership Approach to Increase Parental Self-efficacy in Military Families and Reduce Young Children’s Challenging Behavior”, focused on studying the impact of a parent training program on increasing parenting competence among military families as they encounter deployments and other related challenges. Other activities in the doctoral program included:
Co-facilitated Division for Early Childhood roundtable discussion on impact of events in Ferguson Missouri on young children and families: