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Executive Board

MS CEC Board 2023/2024

Julie Etheridge, Past-President

Julie Etheridge retired as the Director of Special Services for the Walthall County School District in Tylertown Mississippi on June 30, 2023 with 31- and one-half years in Special Education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in special education, mild/moderate disabilities from University of Southern Mississippi in December of 1991 with 12 emphasis hours through the University Affiliated Programs (the current Institute for Disabilities Studies) in early intervention. Julie began working in January 1992 for the Covington County School District where she planned and implemented the special education preschool program for the county and then served as the teacher of the first Developmentally Delayed classroom at Collins Elementary School. She earned her Master’s degree from USM in special education, severe/profound disabilities in 1992, and began her career in the Walthall County School District in 1993. Julie served as a special education teacher for community-based preschool, homebound/hospital, and first grade resource and self-contained. She served as Case Manager for Special Services before earning administrator licensure and becoming Director of Special Services in 2012.

Prior to retirement, Julie served in her community as a Youth Intervention Court team member and a Coalition for Healthy Adolescent Programs and Services (CHAPS) team member and former president. She is a member of Mississippi Professional Educators (MPE) and the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE). Additionally, she served on the Special Education Teacher Shortages Workgroup partnering with MDE, CEEDAR, and other directors across the state to support the retention and recruitment of quality special education teachers in Mississippi. She is currently providing administrator support as a contract worker for MDE.

Michelle McClain, President

Michelle McClain is currently the Behavior Intervention Specialist for Intervention Services in the Office of Elementary Education and Reading at the MS Department of Education. Prior to this school year, she served as Behavior Support Specialist at Pearl Public School District for Special Services grades K-8. In that position, Michelle developed Functional Behavioral Assessments and Behavior Intervention Plans, provided training to faculty, staff, and parents on implementation of the BIP, and provided services and supports to students with an Individualized Education Plan. Michelle’s tasks also included providing behavioral supports to students with sensory regulation/stimulation needs, for Social Emotional Learning Skills, and supports for students in alternative school placement. For the 20/21 school year, she provided academic services virtually to K-12th grade self-contained students. Michelle spent five years as a self-contained special education teacher at Upper Elementary. She then taught the alternative school/behavior classroom students K-12 for Pearl Public School District. Michelle presented in one of the concurrent sessions at the 2019 CEC Team Up to Build Up Fall Conference in Hattiesburg. Michelle received her Education Specialist Degree in Emotional Behavioral Disorder from William Carey University in November 2019, Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Delta State University in 2010, and Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2005. Working with autistic students and students with an Emotional Behavioral Disorder has become her passion for teaching. She believes that while not all students will take that adventure to college; it is her hope with the knowledge she gives them, they will be successful in life.

Allison “Paige” Pigott, President-Elect

Ms. Pigott is a 1997 graduate from Mississippi State University and a 2018 graduate with a Master's degree in Educational Leadership from William Carey University. Ms. Pigott has a total of 23 years experience in special education which includes experience in cross-categorical disabilities and services throughout the continuum of placement options in urban and rural settings at the local and state levels. Some career highlights include working for the Mississippi Department of Education in the Office of Special Education (OSE) as a compliance monitor and as an Instructional Support Specialist. While working as an Instructional Support Specialist, Ms. Pigott conducted training on various special education topics, assisted with an Alternate Diploma rollout, and the development of the MS-Alternate Academic Achievement Standards. In addition, Ms. Pigott has served as a school district Special Services Director for six years. She served as a Special Education Director and MSIS primary for the MS Schools for the Deaf and the Blind in Jackson, MS and is currently the Special Services Director for the North Pike School District located in Summit, MS. At North Pike Ms. Pigott is the administrator in charge of Special Education and Gifted programing, Section 504, students living in foster care, and serves as the district’s MSIS secondary. Ms. Pigott is also the owner of AP Educational Consulting, LLC. and AP Educational Solutions LLC. These two companies focus on professional learning needs of all educators, however most consulting work focuses on educators and related service providers serving students with significant cognitive disabilities, autism, and/or behavior disorders. Ms. Pigott served as the Vice President of the Mississippi Council for Exceptional Children for 2022-2023 is the conference planner for the 2024 MS CEC conference.

Curtis Wicker, Vice-President

Curtis Wicker serves as the Director of Special Education for the Simpson County School District. He received his Masters and Specialist degree in School Psychology from Mississippi State University, and his Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern Mississippi. Additionally, he completed his 12-month internship in School Psychology in the Muskogee County School District in Columbus, GA.

Curtis began his educational career serving as the School Psychologist for the Pass Christian School District. Since then, he has served in the roles of Child Find and Behavior Support Coordinator, Assistant Principal, and Assistant Director of Special Education. He has also provided consultative support to multiple schools in Tennessee in the areas of disproportionality, appropriate identification, and data analysis.

Carol Ann Franklin, Treasurer

Carol Ann Franklin has been teaching the Life Skills special education class at Clinton Junior High for 41 years. She is very passionate about helping and encouraging low functioning students to work at their greatest potential. She received Teacher of the Year at Clinton Junior High in the school years 2003, 2014, and 2021.  She also was recognized as the 2023 Mississippi Council for Exceptional Children’s Teacher of the Year.

Carol Ann received her undergraduate degree in special education from Mississippi State University in 1975 and her master’s degree in special education in 1978. She earned her National Board Certification in Exceptional Needs in 2000. Carol Ann has been a member of the Council for Exceptional Children for many years and has served on the Mississippi Council for Exceptional Children’s board as treasurer since 2008.

Carol Ann is married to Johnny Franklin. They have lived in Bolton, MS since 1995. They have five daughters and seven grandchildren. She is an avid football fan. She especially loves Mississippi State and the Dallas Cowboys. She loves to take trips to the beach during breaks from school. She is a member of Memorial United Methodist church in Bolton, MS where she serves as the Sunday School director and does the children’s sermon each Sunday.

Gretchen Cagle, Secretary

Gretchen Cagle is the Special Education Director for Rankin County School District. Previously, she served as the Special Education Head Coach for Bailey Education Group. She has 25 years of experience in the field of special education including serving as the State Director of Special Education for the Mississippi Department of Education.  She began her career teaching students with significant disabilities at Hudspeth Regional Center in Whitfield. She attended the acclaimed Peabody College at Vanderbilt University in Nashville where she worked as a graduate assistant and research assistant on a Peer Buddy research project and was published as a result of her contributions to the project. Upon completion of her master's degree in special education for students with severe disabilities, she worked in the field of assistive technology and augmentative communication as the regional representative for the Prentke Romich company and as the Assistive Technology Unit (ATU) Facilitator at Hudspeth Regional Center. She left Hudspeth's ATU to become the director of training for Parent Partners, a non-profit organization that oversaw the parent training and information center grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs. There she worked with parents of students with disabilities, training on the principles of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and advocacy techniques to use in working with school districts. During this time, she completed coursework to obtain a license in psychometry and went to work for the Rankin County School District as assistant director of special education. Her duties included working with the statewide assessment system, running the extended school year program, conflict resolution, and a variety of other administrative functions. After eight years with Rankin County, she was selected as an Educator in Residence in the Office of Student Assessment at Mississippi Department of Education prior to her appointment as State Director of Special Education.

Bobby Richardson, Coordinator for CEC Chapters & Special Interest Divisions/CAN Coordinator

Bobby L. Richardson serves as the Assistant Director of Special Education for the Pearl Public School District. With a career spanning over two decades, he brings a wealth of experience in educational administration and advocacy for children and youth. Before his current role, Mr. Richardson held the position of Director of IDEA Fiscal Support and Special Projects within the Mississippi Department of Education's Office of Special Education. His diverse professional background includes roles as a general education teacher, special education teacher, and various administrative positions at the state department of education.

Mr. Richardson's teaching expertise covers a broad range of areas, including resource, inclusion, self-contained, and general education reading. He has also made significant contributions as a transition coordinator and General Education Development (GED) Options Coordinator, focusing on preparing at-risk high school students for the GED. At the district level, he has served as a teacher for incarcerated youth, homebound instructor, intervention specialist/district support team co-chair, and special education program coordinator.

Holding a master's degree in education leadership and administration, Mr. Richardson is known for his leadership marked by passion and integrity. He actively participates in several professional organizations, including the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), serving as the Children and Youth Action Network (CAN) Coordinator for Mississippi. He is also actively involved in the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE), Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT), and Mississippi Professional Educators (MPE).

Debbie Hubbert, Membership, Grants and Awards Coordinator

Mrs. Hubbert earned her Master of Education from Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA. She received certifications in numerous areas of Special Education in the state of Georgia, Ohio, and Mississippi. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL. As a Special Education teacher, she has proven her skills in the classroom as a valuable instructor; her success is evident in the repeated progress she accomplishes in working with children of various rulings.



Last Updated:  29 January, 2024

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