August 2013: Dr. Erica McCray

Dr. Erica McCray

Spotlight on Dr. Erica McCray
August 6, 2013

Dr. Erica McCray had no idea she would one day be a professor when she started college.

She knew that she wanted to help people, which led her to major in psychology. While working as a long-term substitute teacher, she realized the great need for special educators. Erica began her career by teaching a class of students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders in beautiful Tampa, FL. While her background in psychology prepared her well to facilitate changes in behavior, she quickly realized the students had diverse academic needs that required more knowledge and skill. It was at this point that Erica decided to pursue a graduate degree at USF.

Now she loves her work as a teacher educator and researcher. “It has really come full circle.” Erica says as she describes the process by which she moved from being a novice special educator to being a special education faculty member. Erica’s self-described “infinite curiosity” keeps her wondering how she can contribute to research that improves the preparedness of teachers and leaders who are working with our nation’s most vulnerable students. She has a number of notable accomplishments as a special education researcher. (More on this here.)

Erica Building Houses

Erica volunteering on a Rebuilding Together home repair site.

Even more interesting than Erica’s academic background is the driving force behind all of her work. The beginning of Erica’s Master’s program coincided with the birth of her daughter. Her love for her daughter fuels her passion for education. Erica can be heard telling her students, “You have strive to be the kind of teacher you would want to teach your own child.” She also draws inspiration from her mother who she claims to be “the strongest and smartest person I know.”

Not only can Erica be seen busily walking the halls of the University of Florida College of Education; she has many other hobbies. She and her business partner bring delight to many in Gainesville as entrepreneurial bakers. Delicious cupcakes and cookies are just a couple of the items that sometimes grace Norman Hall. Erica also volunteers her time with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and with Rebuilding Together North Central Florida. She and her daughter love working together to perform repairs on homes for families in need.

Erica is driven to help those who need it the most. As such, she is looking forward to her work with CEEDAR and collaborating to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.

The CEEDAR Spotlight is a monthly installment that introduces you to one of our CEEDAR Teammates.  You can find more information about Erica on our website’s “About Us” section.