Gifted Studies Team

Meagan Arrastia-Chisholm, Ph.D., Program Cordinator

Dr. Arrastia-Chisholm is currently an associate professor of educational psychology and program coordinator for the Center for Gifted Studies at Valdosta State University where she has worked since August 2015. At the graduate level, she teaches measurement and evaluation, learning theory, and research methods. Her professional and research interests include parental separation, gifted education in rural schools, and college counseling. In the past year, Dr. Arrastia-Chisholm has collaborated with her colleagues and students to publish work in journals, such as the National Youth-at-Risk Journal, Peabody Journal of Education, Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, Theory & Practice in Rural Education, and the Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin.
Dr. Arrastia may be reached at and at 229-249-2777.

Heather Kelley, Ph.D., Department Head

Heather Kelley
Dr. Kelley is the Department Head of Human Services and Associate Professor of Educational Psychology in the College of Education and Human Services at Valdosta State University. Dr. Kelley received her Doctorate of Philosophy in Educational Psychology from Texas Tech University in 2011. At Valdosta State University, Dr. Kelley has taught a range of undergraduate and graduate courses which include Educational Psychology, Learning and Assessment, Adult Learning, Classroom Management, and Exploring Teaching and Learning. Dr. Kelley's research interests focuses on teaching and learning in the K-12 education setting. More specifically, her interests include self-efficacy, culturally responsive teaching, and academic achievement in under-performing groups. 
Dr. Kelley may be reached at 
Katharine S. Adams, Ph.D., Associate Professor Katharine AdamsDr. Katharine S. Adams is currently an associate professor and program chair of Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Valdosta State University. She received her BS degree from the University of Florida, MS degree from Valdosta State University, and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and School Psychology from Florida State University. She is a licensed psychologist. Her professional experiences include elementary and middle-school education and psychological assessment and counseling. Her current research interests include the social-emotional adjustment and academic success of both high and low achieving students as well as the social stigma associated with disability.
Dr. Adams may be reached by email at
Davesha Gibbs Miller, Ed.D., Teaching Faculty
Dr. Miller is currently a part-time instructor of educational psychology at Valdosta State University. At the graduate level, she teaches various courses in the Counselor Education program. She received her B.S. degree in Psychology, M.Ed. and Ed. S. degrees in School Counseling from Valdosta State University, and Ed. D. in Counseling Psychology from Argosy University. She has worked as a certified school counselor since 2006, gaining experience in clinical mental health, as well as at the elementary and middle school levels.
Dr. Miller may be reached at 
Dr. Samantha Tackett, Ph.D., Teaching Faculty
Dr. Tackett is teaching faculty of educational psychology for the Center for Gifted Studies at Valdosta State University. She thoroughly enjoys teaching assessment, cognitive psychology, educational psychology, educational technology, student success seminars, and research methods in traditional and online contexts. Her graduate credentials include a certificate in Institutional Research, a Master of Science in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology, Learning and Cognition from Florida State University. Dr. Tackett has collaborated with colleagues and students to present research at regional and national conferences and publish in national and international journals, such as the International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments, the International Journal of Teacher Education and Professional Development, the Peabody Journal of Education, and the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education. Her professional and research interests include the engagement, persistence, and retention of first-generation student populations; gifted education for minority student populations; sociocultural influences on students’ academic engagement, learning outcomes, and college retention.  
Dr. Tackett may be reached at
Yuting Zhao, M.S., Teaching Faculty
Yuting Zhao is currently a currently a part-time instructor for the Center for Gifted Studies at Valdosta State University. Ms. Yuting Zhao graduated from Florida State University with a Master's degree in Educational Psychology. She has a passion for teaching and teaches Exploring Learning & Teaching. Her research interests lie primarily in child language development, bilingualism, and classroom language interventions. She worked in the Florida Center for Reading Research and published work in journals such as Infant and Child Development and Early Education and Development
Ms. Yuting Zhao may be reached by email at
Jennifer Casabonne, Graduate Assistant 
Jennifer Casabonne
Jennifer Casabonne is currently a graduate assisstantfor the Center for Gifted Studies and the Department of Human Services at Valdosta State University. Ms. Casabonne is obtaining a M.Ed. Degree with a Major in Communication Disorders at Valdosta State University. She is pursing a career in speech-language pathology in the school settings. Her interests include researching in AAC devices, the impact of music in speech development, and helping children in foster care.
Ms. Jennifer Casabonne may be reached at