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Kara Hume, Kathryn Leech join School of Education

They are among nine new tenure-line faculty members hired this year

The School of Education has added research and teaching strength in special education and early childhood development with the hiring of new faculty members Kara Hume and Kathryn Leech.

Hume and Leech are two of nine new tenure-line faculty members joining the School this year, and among the 15 who have been hired during the past two years.

“We are delighted to have been able to recruit Kara Hume and Kathryn Leech to join Carolina’s School of Education,” said Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, dean of the School. “We look forward to supporting them in their research and seeing them make important contributions in their fields.”

Kara Hume joins the School of Education faculty as an associate professor, coming from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute where she worked for 10 years as a researcher.

Hume has been a principal investigator or co-principal investigator in projects that have received more than $12 million in funding. She is co-PI of the Center on Secondary Education for Students with ASD (CSESA), funded by the Institute for Education Sciences to work with high schools, families, adolescents with ASD, and others to improve high school experiences for people on the autism spectrum.

She has published almost 40 manuscripts and has led two of the largest studies to date examining the efficacy of school-based interventions for students with developmental disabilities. She is a co-editor of the recently published “SAGE Handbook on Autism and Education.”

Hume has worked with children and young adults on the autism spectrum for almost 30 years in a variety of capacities, including as a home program therapist, teacher, trainer, consultant, and now researcher. She was a classroom teacher for seven years working primarily with students on the autism spectrum and has worked with the UNC TEACCH Autism Program as a trainer for professionals in the field.

Hume earned her Ph.D. in special education from Indiana University in 2007, the year before she joined the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. At FPG, she was promoted to advanced research scientist in 2012. She has held appointments in the School of Education, most recently as a research associate professor in 2015.

Kathryn Leech joins the School as an assistant professor, coming to Carolina after completing two postdoctoral fellowships at Boston University and the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Leech, who earned her Ph.D. in human development and quantitative methodology from the University of Maryland in 2016, specializes in children’s language and literacy development during early childhood.

Her research examines early childhood language and literacy development, with a specific focus on how children’s social interaction with caregivers supports development of these skills. Her research takes place in multiple contexts — mealtimes, book reading, museums, and childcare settings — and includes mother-child and father-child interactions in families from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

Her research, including five first-authored papers, has been published in outlets such as Developmental Psychology, Developmental Science, and Journal of Child Language.

In addition to her research, Leech will teach in the Human Development and Family Studies undergraduate program and in graduate programs in teacher preparation and applied developmental science and special education.