Julie Southward, MA, of Richardson is pursuing her doctorate in special education from Texas Woman’s University with a 4.0 GPA and plans to graduate in May. She is receiving one of four prestigious scholarships given by Texas Woman’s University at the 15th Annual Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award Luncheon, presented by Bank of Texas, Texas Woman’s University, and the Texas Woman’s University Foundation, March 8, at noon, at The Belo Mansion and Pavilion.
Southward, a practicing diagnostician for the past 15 years, works in Richardson ISD as an educational diagnostician and a lead evaluator in the Richardson High School area as well as a mentor for new educational diagnosticians.
Southward’s dissertation is on the effectiveness of repeated reading as an intervention for high school students with a specific learning disability. From her teaching experience she has learned the importance of having strong reading skills upon graduation from high school, but she has found little research on the effectiveness of reading interventions with high school students. After receiving her Ph.D., Southward plans to continue research with the hope of working for a university.
Southward received her bachelor’s in social work from the University of Texas in Arlington in 1989 and a master’s in special education from Texas Woman’s University in 2001.
“It took me ten years to earn my undergraduate degree and a few more to decide to continue on to get my master’s which I earned in four years,” added Southward. “I love working with students who have been identified with a disability, and I feel like I can make a difference. When I was in high school, I was not the one who was supposed to get a college degree so my counselors did not talk to me about college. I was the first in my family to receive a college degree! So, when my students express a desire to attend college, I always encourage them!”
“There is nothing better than helping students gain an understanding of their disabilities and discover that they can learn,” said Southward. “I wanted to pursue additional education to learn more about disabilities and how they affect students both in and out of school. I also love the idea of researching – finding what works and what does not work. The research portion of my Ph.D. studies has been such an eye-opener and a favorite part of my studies.”
Southward has also worked in Dallas ISD and Frisco ISD and has multiple professional certifications including registered professional educational diagnostician; educational diagnostician, grades PK-12; secondary reading, grades 6-12; and generic special education, grades K-12. She is a member of the Texas Educational Diagnosticians’ Association, Texas Professional Educational Diagnosticians (TPED), Council on Learning Disabilities, and Council for Exceptional Children. She is also the recipient of several scholarship awards from TWU.
“I am very honored to receive the Virginia Chandler Dykes Scholarship,” said Southward. “It means that my decision to return to school to focus on research was the right decision. It also means that my professors and advisors have faith in me and my abilities to contribute to the profession. I could not have come this far without their support.”
Southward and her husband live in Richardson. They have three children and four grandchildren.
“My youngest daughter is in her first year of teaching fourth grade,” added Southward. “She loves it, and it warms my heart to see the light in her eyes when she talks about the students she is teaching.”
In addition to Southward, graduate students from the remaining three TWU colleges will also be honored at the luncheon as recipients of scholarship funds: Danielle “Kamica” King, College of Arts and Sciences; Laurie Stelter, College of Health Sciences, sponsored by Edgemere –Dallas/SQLC Charitable Foundation; and Katheryn Courville, College of Nursing, sponsored by Luther King Capital Management.
TWU’s 15th Annual Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award Luncheon, March 8 at the Belo Mansion and Pavilion, will honor Dr. Stephen Mansfield, president and CEO of Dallas-based Methodist Health System, as the 2017 recipient of the Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award. Tickets are $175 for silver patron; $250 for gold patron. For more information, call 940-898-3872, visit www.twu.edu/vcd, or email TRupani@twu.edu.