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Meet the THRIVE Team

Karen Fahrmeier

THRIVE Coordinator

Karen Fahrmeier,

Ms. Fahrmeier, THRIVE Coordinator, being an educator has been a priority for Karen in many different settings. She received her Bachelor's of Education from William Jewell College. She started professionally as a Third-Grade teacher in Independence, MO, and during that time earned a master's degree in general elementary education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She was then a stay-at-home mom / volunteer for many years with her children, Bruce and Molly. Substitute teaching led to being a Parent Educator for Parents As Teachers in the KCMO School District. She also received certification for Special Education-Cross-Categorical from Avila University. After earning a master's degree in Special Education from Kansas University, Karen taught elementary with special needs in Raytown, Mo; Marillac Centers in the Kansas City area and Anchorage, Alaska. Becoming a "Gramma" brought her back to the Kansas City area where she was a Service Coordinator for First Steps of Missouri and a special educator at Gordan Parks Elementary Charter School. Karen has been the coordinator for the THRIVE Program at the University of Central Missouri since August of 2011.

Michael Brunkhorst

THRIVE Advisor / Case Manager

Michael Brunkhorst,

Mr. Brunkhorst, THRIVE Instructional Liaison, received his MSE in Special Education from the University of Central Missouri in 2005. He also received his Bachelor of Science in General Management from UCM in 1992. He has over 13 years of retail management experience. He has 14 years of teaching experience including working at the middle school, elementary, & high school settings. He has held the position of special education teacher, process coordinator, and transition coordinator during this time. For the first 4 years I have been the Instructional Liaison position for the program. In August 2017, I moved to the Advisor / Case Manager position. I will use my past work and job experiences in education to assist the students with their careers. I will also work with helping create internship experiences within the community for our 2nd-year students. In addition I will help assist students in selecting their classes and schedules during their time in our program. I look forward to using my past experiences to further enhance the THRIVE program.

Debra Southard

THRIVE Instructional Liaison

Debra Southard,

Instruction from University of Central Missouri in 2003.  She also received her Bachelor of Science in Education from UCM in 1988. She has 25 years of High School teaching experience. She has taught in Chilhowee, Lone Jack, and  Holden Mo. She has taught daily living skills to a wide range of students from different back grounds as well as abilities. She has also substituted at middle school and high school level. The last two years she has subbed as Office professionals in several UCM offices where she gained knowledge of the interworkings of the University . 

I will be teaching first year students in the THRIVE program as well as administrator of Plato, an online classroom program. I will meet regularly with first year students helping with organization skills, class assignments, and  social adjustments. Also, I will meet with instructors on campus for updates on our THRIVE students they have in class, adding extra support for your students.

Dr. Barbara Mayfield-Director of Accessibility Services

Director of Accessibility Services-Founding Member

Dr. Barbara Mayfield,

Dr. Mayfield, Director of Accesibility Services, pursued her dream of teaching in a preschool in Seattle, Washington, followed by owning and operating a preschool/daycare center in Los Alamos, New Mexico. She earned a B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.S. in Special Education (behavior disorders and learning disabilities) from the University of Kansas and enjoyed a rewarding career teaching in the Olathe, Kansas schools, earning the distriction of Master Teacher. She worked in early childhood special education, elementary education, and with secondary school students with behavior disorders. Upon earning a juris doctorate degree from the University of Kansas, Dr. Mayfield practiced law until merging her legal training with her first love of education in the Office of Accessibility Services at the University of Central Missouri. She has dedicated 21 years to students with disabilities at UCM as ADA/504 coordinator and director of Accessibility Services, currently providing equal opportunity to over 650 students. As a member of the grant writing team for the development of THRIVE and ongoing member of the THRIVE team, Dr. Mayfield counts her experience with the program mand the THRIVE students as a highpoint of her career.

Dr. Joyce Downing-Department Chair for Ed Leadership and Human Development.

Department Chair for Ed. Leadership & Human Development-Founding Member

Dr. Joyce Downing,

Dr. Downing, Department Chair for Ed. Leadership & Human Development, ...

PIcture of Janelle Cowles

Professor in Counseling Education-Counseling Advisor

Dr. Janelle Cowles,

Dr. Cowles, Professor in Counseling Education-Counseling Advisor, earned a B.S. in Elementary Education, M.S. in Guidance and Counseling from Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) and an Ed.D. in Counseling and Student Services from North Texas State University (now University of North Texas). She began her career as an elementary teacher in Springfield, Missouri, moving to counseling at the elementary school level after 7 years as a teacher. She has been a Counselor Educator for 26 years. Dr. Cowles joined the faculty at UCM in January of 1997 from her most recent employment as a training specialist and program evaluator for Des Moines Public Schools. Dr. Cowles has been a member of the THRIVE team for 5 years. She provides supervision for the counseling intern who provides individual, group, and career counseling for all THRIVE students.



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