College of Education

Meet a Tiger: Shanna E. Hirsch


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This Tiger conducts research in schools and trains pre-service teachers. One of the best things at Clemson, she says, is the opportunity to work with students who are passionate and driven to make a difference.

Meet Shanna Hirsch.

Title: Assistant professor of Special Education

Years at Clemson: Two

What I do at Clemson: I teach classes in special education, emotional behavioral disorders and intensive behavioral interventions. In addition to teaching, I also direct the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Film creative inquiry, which means that I get to work with incredible undergraduate students who are interested in learning how PBIS films can support student learning and school climate. Recently, the Creative Inquiry students interviewed a group of PBIS film producers from across the country. The findings have implications for how schools create and use films.

Outside of the classroom, I have partnered with local school districts to enhance teacher implementation of practices related to students with disabilities and those at risk. Last year, I worked closely with a school district to conduct a series of professional development workshops centered around intensive behavioral interventions.

What I love about Clemson: I love the community of passionate students and engaged faculty. The students continue to push me to improve my teaching and instruction. They are also interested in learning more about research. One of my favorite experiences has been working with the undergraduate students as part of the Creative Inquiry program. Their passion, creativity and drive for knowledge have transformed the PBIS Film Festival.

I also love watching my four-year-old son run around campus! He enjoys playing (rolling) on Bowman Field and then indulging in ice cream from the ’55 Exchange!

What was a defining moment for you at Clemson: During my on-campus interview, I met with Dr. Debi Switzer. Dr. Switzer explained the faculty-in-residence program. The faculty-in-residence program helps a faculty member partner with a local school to provide professional development. At the same time, the faculty member conducts research. As an education researcher, I loved that the College of Education is willing to make a real investment into building school-university partnerships. Although this wasn’t precisely a defining a moment, it was the moment I knew the College of Education’s vision aligned with my own beliefs about improving teacher professional development.

Accomplishment I’m most proud of: During the spring of 2017, we turned a traditional class assignment into a service project. As part of the Introduction to Special Education course, students learn about the various laws that impact individuals with disabilities including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The ADA requires buildings to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. As part of the class, the students visit various structures around campus to determine whether they adhere to the ADA accessibility guidelines. The students found that many of the facilities on campus meet and exceed the code. Their eyes were also opened to issues related to areas of improvement. At the end of the semester, the students presented the results to Clemson’s Accessibility Commission. Because of the students’ reports, facilities have made changes to campus such as creating an ADA accessible bathroom in Godfrey Hall.

Where I see myself in five years: Continuing to work with creative and passionate students, faculty, and teachers to support individuals with disabilities and those at risk.

Last thing I watched on TV: Any political drama: The West Wing, Madame Secretary and House of Cards.

Guilty pleasure: I love attending professional conferences. Many of my good friends are also colleagues who work at universities across the country. Attending a conference is like visiting a new city with a group of good friends.

One thing most people don’t know about me: Snowboarding has been a huge part of my life ever since I was a teenager. During college, I worked as a lift attendant at Stowe Mountain Resort (Vermont) to access a season pass and ride three to four times a week. As a lift attendant, I checked passes and operated the ski lifts. I also got to hang out with members of the 2002 Olympic Snowboarding Team. Twenty-five years later, I am still a season pass holder but only get out one to two times a year.

Want to nominate a colleague to be featured in Meet a Tiger? Contact Jackie Todd at

Meet more Tigers here, and check out #FacesOfClemson on Instagram.

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