Rhuperdia Clay is a research associate with Center of Education and Lifelong Learning (CELL), one of seven research centers at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Clay has embraced teaching, mentoring, and leadership roles throughout her 20+ years as an educator. She is an experienced preschool director, special education teacher, and equitable supports coach with a demonstrated history of effective utilization of research-based approaches. She lends her knowledge to families, communities, and nonprofit organizations as a scholar, tutor, and advocate. Clay is passionate about providing quality educational opportunities for Black and brown students, and students with dis/abilities. It is her goal to eradicate racial and social stigmas pertaining to special education using the universal design for learning (living) framework to account for environmental/ systematic barriers. Her personal motto and belief is, “All Education Should Be Special!”
Clay holds a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Psychology from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. She has a master’s degree in Special Education also from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.
I was born with a physical disability, the sixth of nine children, in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. My experiences as a Black student from the south with dis/abilities shaped me as a person, educator, and advocate.
Shirly Chisholm wrote, “We must reject not only the stereotypes that others hold of us, but also the stereotypes that we hold of ourselves.”
Armed with this thought, I avidly seek knowledge of systems, self, and cultures. I am passionate about disrupting harmful practices and dismantling oppressive systems. I am a reflective practitioner and collaborator operating from a place of empathy, consistency, and steadfast advocacy.
- Dis/Ability Stigma in Minority Communities
- Equitable Practices in Education
- Improving Teacher Efficacy
Clay, R. L. (2022). Cancer, Covid-19, and the cultural impact of technology in the classroom. In C. J. Bonk & M. Zhu (Eds.), Transformative teaching around the world: Stories of cultural impact, technology integration, and innovative pedagogy (pp. 247–252). Routledge.
Awards and Honors
- 2019 Teacher of the Year Top 10, Indianapolis Public Schools
- 2018 Special Education Leadership Series, Indianapolis Public Schools
- 2017, 2019 Effective Collaborator & Strategist, Indianapolis Public Schools
- 2016 Education Scholarship, Puritan Missionary Baptist Church