Curtis Garcia Teacher Education ChairCurtis Garcia, Ph.D.

Professor and School Director

Office: McD 244

Dr. Curtis Garcia is a San Luis Valley native who earned his bachelor’s degree from Yale University, then returned home to work as an educator. He holds a Master of Arts degree in educational leadership from Adams State and a Ph.D. in educational leadership research and policy from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Dr. Garcia’s research focuses on teacher quality and evaluation, issues in rural education, and issues related to multicultural education and equity in schools.

Dr. Garcia joined the faculty of Adams State’s School of Education in 2014 and has served as field service coordinator, department chair, and School Director. In addition to his faculty and administrative roles, Dr. Garcia directs Project SERVE, a program aimed at supporting early recruitment and retention of educators in the San Luis Valley. He has also served as principal investigator or project director for multiple state and federal grants aimed at supporting recruitment and retention efforts within the field of education.

Prior to joining the faculty of Adams State, Dr. Garcia served as a high social studies teacher, director of special programs, then as PK-12 principal. He was recognized in 2013 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Cross State Learning Collaborative with the Integration Award for Outstanding Principal Leadership. He also does educational consulting work and serves as a regional specialist in the Educator Effectiveness Unit for the Colorado Department of Education.

Joaquín Vilá Vice President for Academic AffairsJoaquin Vilá, Ph.D.


Office: McD 248

Joaquín S. Vilá, PhD, has a degree in Linguistics from Michigan State University. He has been engaged in higher education for over 33 years now teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in his field. He has been granted tenure at four institutions and served in both schools/ colleges of Arts and Education. His areas of specialization are sociolinguistics and the teaching of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). He is particularly interested in bilingualism and the teaching of STEM subjects to ESL students, e.g., use of robotics in teaching math. His professional efforts cover instruction, development, implementation and administration of ESL teacher preparation-programs and intensive English programs, having served as professional consultant to the states of Nevada and Maryland. He has extensive experience in program development, e.g., minors. bachelor’s, masters, certificate programs and doctoral programs. He has also developed and implemented successful online programs that provided increased access opportunities to students regionally/ nationally. Other related activities include grant-supported development and delivery of in-service training opportunities to school personnel in the areas of ESL methods, cross-cultural communication, diversified instruction & high-impact practices, as well as content-area instruction for ESL (over $5 million). Services/ support was provided for professional development for teachers/ staff in DE, MD, VA, NV & NM. Dr. Vilá also served as associate dean for academic affairs at Salisbury University, charged with developing an assessment plan for general education for Middle States accreditation.

He was charged with developing and implementing and assessment plan for the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation at Northern New Mexico College (A Hispanic Serving Institution) where he served as dean of the College of Education for four years. Dr. Vilá has extensive experience in meeting the academic needs of culturally and linguistically diverse populations, particularly Latino and Native American Students as well overseeing programs directed at student retention and increased graduation rates. He served as a consultant to the state of Nevada on matters pertaining to the education of English Language Learners and multicultural education. He has been an active participant in the accreditation of teacher preparation programs having served for seven years as a program reviewer (SPA) and three additional years as a program review auditor, and was a member of the team charged with revising the national professional standards for the TESOL organization. He also served for over twelve years as a member of the Board of Examiners (BOE) for the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and as a CAEP site visitor. Dr. Vilá served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado for the 2018-2019 academic year and is there presently a professor in the School of Education.

Justine SchwarzJustine Schwarz, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Office: McD 252

Dr. Justine Schwarz holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Truman State in Kirksville, Missouri, a Masters in Teaching and Leadership from St. Xavier University in Chicago, and a doctorate in Cognition and Instruction from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. Dr. Schwarz taught pre-k, elementary, and middle school in Illinois, Georgia, and Utah. She has experience teaching at private and public schools, as well as, in rural, suburban, and urban settings. Dr. Schwarz taught for 35 years at the pre-k, elementary, and middle school level. She joined Adam State University in 2023. Dr. Schwarz is currently an assistant professor of education in ASU’s School of Education where she teaches literacy and language classes. Her interested research areas are vocabulary instruction and the reading/writing connection.

Michele Mann, Ph.D.Michele Mann, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Office: McD 258

Michele Mann received her bachelor’s degree from Furman University in biology with science teacher licensure. She completed a Master of Arts degree in Biology (with an emphasis in education) from the University of South Florida.  Michele earned her Ph.D. in STEM Education from the University of Texas at Austin. Her dissertation “One Leopard Gecko, Two Warrior Cats, and Three Fiddler Crabs: A Study of the Science Identity Work of Fifth-Graders Around the Science Classroom”, reflects her research interests on science identity work and how science identity supports retention in the STEM fields.

Dr. Mann taught high school science and middle school science.  She served as a science coordinator K-12 for Kerrville ISD in Kerrville, Texas.  Her passion was working with students doing their independent research and competing in science fairs.  She has served on regional, state, and the International executive boards for science fairs.

Dr. Mann has presented research at National and International conferences and published research in several journals such as: Journal of Learning Sciences and Journal of College Science Teaching.  She was the recipient of Carolyn J and John H Young fellowship, Peabody scholarship, and the Texas Nominee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Dr. Mann enjoys spending her free time making cold process soap, hiking, spending time with her boys and camping with her dog.

Kieran Nduagbo, Ph.D.Kieran Nduagbo, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Office: McD 250

Dr. Kieran Nduagbo holds a Bachelors of Science in Education in Special Education from Loyola University, Chicago, IL and a Masters of Art in Administration from Governors State, University Park, IL. She earned her doctorate in Higher Education from Seton Hall University South Orange, New Jersey.

Dr. Nduagbo has taught elementary, special and secondary education in Illinois, New Jersey and New York for 11years.  She served as a school principal in K-8 setting for seven years in New Jersey and New York.

Dr. Kieran Nduagbo joined Adams State University Alamosa, Colorado in 2019. She is currently an assistant professor of education in the Adams State School of Education, where she teaches Educational Psychology, Elementary/Secondary Senior Block Assessment & Practice course, Exceptional Learner Course and Integrated Instruction & Assessment graduate level course online. Dr. Nduagbo is interested in research on diversity, equity and inclusion education.

Janene MondragónJanene Mondragón, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor

Office: McD 246

Dr. Janene Medina Mondragón is an Adams State first-generation alumna who is dedicated to the continued development of culturally responsive and neurodiverse practices to promote inclusivity on campus. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Physiology, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a Masters and Doctorate in Education. Her studies are indicative of her philosophical approach to optimizing teaching and learning through holistic frameworks. Her current research focuses on pedagogical strategies and methodologies incorporating digital literacies in pre-K through higher education curricula.

Dr. Mondragón served public schools in New Mexico and Colorado for 24 years. Her accolades include the New Mexico School Boards Student Achievement Award and a New Mexico Golden Apple Fellowship. In her unwavering allegiance to promoting positive social change in education, she supports preservice and practicing teachers in implementing equitable and progressive approaches to guide students to healthy citizenship and college and career opportunities.

Acacia Nadeau-LaraAcacia Nadeau-Lara, M.A.

Program Coordinator

Office: MCD 242

Acacia Nadeau-Lara holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Northern Colorado, and a Master of Arts in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education from Adams State University. Acacia has experience teaching Kindergarten through 5th grade and spent most of her teaching career in Longmont, Colorado with the St. Vrain Valley School District. As a San Luis Valley native, she recently moved back home in 2021 to teach Kindergarten and 2nd grade with the Alamosa School District, while finishing her Master’s at ASU. She is thrilled to join the School of Education department at Adams State and to have the opportunity to advise undergraduate and graduate students in the initial licensure programs. Acacia is most passionate about trauma-informed social emotional learning as well as equity and inclusion driven practices in the classroom. She believes that there is a strong connection between teaching and advising and hopes to bridge her experience in the classroom with her role as advisor at Adams State.

Teacher Education Professor Angela MadridAngela Madrid

Administrative Assistant

Office: McD 241

Ms. Madrid previously worked for the public school system for 13 ½ years, starting with the Centennial School District in San Luis from 1993-2004 as the district secretary, and later as the administrative assistant to the Superintendent of Schools and Board of Education.

Ms. Madrid began working for Adams State as a temporary assistant from March thru November of 2012  in the music and nursing departments. She also worked in the Alamosa School District at Ortega Middle School as the attendance secretary from 2005-2008.

In December 2014 Ms. Madrid joined the Adams State School of Education where she currently serves as the administrative assistant.