Sarah Johnston-Rodriguez
Associate Professor, Special Education


Special and Early Education (SEED)


Ph.D.   University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. (Special Education and Rehabilitation Psychology)            

M.Ed.  University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, (Special Education: Severe Cognitive and Behavior Disabilities)

B.A.    University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana (Speech and Language/ Russian)


A native of southern Illinois, Dr. Sarah Johnston-Rodriguez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Special and Early Education.  She received her doctorate from the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Dr. Johnston-Rodriguez is also a graduate of the University of Illinois where she earned a Bachelors in Speech and Language and a Masters in Special Education.  Prior to coming to NIU, Dr. Johnston-Rodriguez taught at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in Special Education and at Montana State University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Rehabilitation Counseling.

Previous to teaching at NIU, Dr. Johnston-Rodriguez’ professional experiences involved working with students and adults with significant disabilities in both educational, community and work settings as an educator, behavior specialist, vocational counselor, case manager and employment specialist.

Dr. Johnston-Rodriguez is active in disability advocacy organizations at both the state and national level, focusing on policy development, diversity and professional development. Her current research interests focus on career exploration and development of career pathways for diverse adolescents with emotional and behavior disabilities.  At home in Madison, WI. Dr. Johnston-Rodriguez enjoys the outdoors, yoga, and spending time with her family.

Research Interests

  • Career development and transition for diverse, at-risk youth

  • Self-determination and transition for diverse, at-risk youth

  • Evidence-based transition practices in transition

  • Teacher preparation in special education

  • Financial literacy education and youth with disabilities


  • SESE 448
  • SESE 447 Collaboration and Co-Teaching
  • SESE 605
  • SESE 559

Recent Publications

Conderman, G., Dalhoe, A., & Johnston-Rodriguez, S. (2013). Promoting self-regulation in transition planning. LD Forum, April, 2013.

Conderman, G., Johnston-Rodriguez, S., Hartman, P., & Walker, D. (2013). Honoring voices from beginning special educators for making changes in teacher preparation. Teacher Education and Special Education.36, 1, 65-76.

Conderman, G., Johnston-Rodriguez, S., Hartman, P., & Kemp, D. (2013). Preparing secondary special educators. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 57:4, 196-205.






Sarah Johnston-Rodriguez


(815) 753-6378
Gabel 166D

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