Educator Preparation Institute

Teacher Preparation and Re-Certification

About Us

Dr. Rhonda Atkinson, Program Chair

rhondaRhonda is proud to say that she is from the great state of Arkansas and was on the faculty at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge for about 20 years and at Central Missouri State University (CMSU) for about 7 years.  Although she has taught undergraduate and graduate education students, most of her higher education experience concerns the development of reading and learning strategies in first-year students.  This provides her with an excellent background for teaching education courses because she has had broad experiences in a number of content areas. Rhonda enjoys curriculum development and instructional design.  She started teaching at Valencia in Fall of 2006 and she teaches undergraduate education courses as well as courses for the Educator Preparation Institute. Rhonda has an undergraduate degree in Elementary, Special, and Early Childhood Education from the University of Central Arkansas and a Master’s degree in Learning Disabilities.  Her Ph.D. is in Educational Curriculum and Instruction (reading emphasis) from LSU.  Rhonda’s husband teaches graduate courses in educational technology and is also a jazz musician.  They have been married for 35 years. In her spare moments in the past, she has written several college textbooks in reading and study skills and worked on a variety of other writing projects (e.g. workplace learning in industrial construction trades, ESL health curriculum for low-literate adults, afterschool program on museums in Louisiana for middle school students.) She is also currently working on a textbook on college success for students at community colleges and she most recently worked on curriculum projects for the U.S. Army and for Northrop Grumman.  Rhonda’s daughter graduated from UCF with a degree in hospitality management and works for the corporate offices of the Kessler Collection here in Orlando. Rhonda has 2 cats and enjoys going to the theme parks! She has two major goals for for EPI students, she says, "First, I want to provide you with the knowledge you need to become a certified teacher in Florida. Second, I want to help you develop the knowledge and expertise you need to face your students with complete confidence."


Cassandra Barnhill, EPI Instructor

CassyCassandra began working at Valencia College in 2007 and loves teaching for the Educator Preparation Institute program.  She stated, “It is such a rewarding experience to share my love and knowledge of teaching with future educators.”   After attending Valencia for an Associate in Arts degree, she attended the University of Central Florida and graduated in 2000 with a Bachelors of Art degree in Psychology. Cassandra began teaching first grade in 2002 as she continued her education and received a Master of Science degree in Reading from Nova Southeastern University in 2006.  She is happily married and has a peaceful dog named Peanut.  Cassandra loves to read, garden and travel. 


Dr. Lisa Bugden, EPI Instructor

BugdenLisa F. Bugden is an Associate Faculty Member for Valencia College (VCC).  She also holds a Digital Professor Certification from VCC which aids her in teaching fully online, hybrid and web-enhanced courses. Lisa teaches several courses for the EPI Program, three education courses and the Student Success course for VCC.  Previously, she was an experienced special education teacher who taught for eight years at the middle and high school levels. Lisa completed a Bachelors of Science degree in Exceptional Student Education, Specialization in Emotionally Handicap, in 1997 and a Masters of Education in Varying Exceptionalities in 1998 at the University of Central Florida (UCF).  In December, 2007, Lisa received her Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership also from UCF.  Since 2000, Lisa has also taught teacher certification and recertification courses as an Adjunct Instructor for Florida Southern College at the Orlando, Florida campus and most recently she has taught EDU 325 Classroom Organization and Management and EDU 209 Human Development and Learning in a workshop format.  Additionally, Lisa taught courses in special education for UCF and will be teaching EDG 4410 Instructional Strategies and Classroom Management for the fall term.  Lisa joined the Educator Preparation Institute at Valencia College as an Instructor shortly after its inception in the fall of 2006.  In 2007, she was a member of the EPI Course Redesign Team where the seven hybrid course and two online field experiences were standardized for the program. In 2008, Lisa worked to convert six of the seven hybrid courses to fully online for EPI Online Course Development Project.  Lisa also facilitates a professional development course for VCC called Facilitating Online Learning.  She has served on two Quality Matters reviews at VCC and is currently serving on a dissertation committee for a student at Capella University.TOP


Deborah Mullins, EPI Instructor

DebDeborah started with the EPI program in August of 2007 and really enjoys the different groups of people she teaches within each course. She stated, "I really like hearing about the experiences of the new teachers starting in the classroom. They truly want to get started on the right foot and be the best for the sake of their students. It is a great feeling to share information and provide the instruction that is needed to help them be successful in their new career. Plus, I get to hear new ideas that I can try in my own classroom!" Deborah was in the Navy for over 14 years and always knew she would teach when she left the military because she said she felt like she was just born to help others. Deborah graduated from the University of Central Florida in December 2000 with a Master's in Art degree in Varying Exceptionalities and has been teaching for Orange County Public Schools for the last 14 years at the high school level. In 2003 she earned her Certificate inEducational Leadership from the University of Central Florida and hopes to someday open her own school. Deborah has one daughter that graduated from Valencia in 2009, 2 adorable mini-dachshunds and the daughter's cat. Deborah enjoys traveling, reading, and listening to music.


Joshua Murdock, EPI Instructor

JoshJosh Murdock grew up in Central Florida attending Seminole Community College after high school. With over 12 years of higher education experience, he strives to provide excellent educational services to the students at Valencia College. He is the Manager of Learning Support Services supervising the Communications, Math, Testing, and Tutoring Centers on West Campus. In addition, he is an adjunct professor for the Educator Preparation Institute (EPI) Technology course and Student Success professor. He holds a Master of Arts in both Educational Leadership for Higher Education and Instructional Technology from the University of Central Florida, with a graduate certificate in E-learning. He is a millennial who not only loves surfing the internet, but surfing the waves every chance he gets.