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Dr. Erynne Shatto receives Bill Wyatt Distinguished Professorship

By: Ethan Steinquest December 18, 2023

Dr. Erynne ShattoAustin Peay State University’s College of Behavioral and Health Sciences has named Dr. Erynne Shatto, assistant professor of counseling psychology, as the recipient of the Bill Wyatt Distinguished Professorship for 2024.

Through the endowment, Shatto was awarded $10,000 in funding for a year-long research project on Teacher-Child Interaction Training (TCIT) to support military children with disabilities. She is currently working with Fort Campbell Child & Youth Services to integrate TCIT into its Strong Beginnings Pre-K program.

“I feel very honored to be chosen,” said Shatto, who specializes in caring for children ages 0-5 and children with developmental differences. “It also gives me hope because it reminds me that others outside of my team care about the needs of some of the most vulnerable among us. I hope that this professorship will shed light on the needs of disabled military children in our community.”

According to Shatto, children with developmental differences can struggle to find consistent care amid deployments, relocations and other stressors associated with military life. That can be especially challenging for younger children since their brain architecture is still forming. 

“Disabled children in this age group are [also] particularly vulnerable and at-risk for abuse and maltreatment due to their age and disabilities, which are often misunderstood,” she said. “[But] early intervention and the right supports set children up for success through helping them with critical learning readiness skills.”

Shatto said TCIT is effective at providing early intervention because it teaches educators ways to help children who struggle with intense levels of disruptive behavior – which often occurs as a result of developmental differences.

Pre-K teachers and staff at Fort Campbell will train on TCIT throughout 2024 – along with doctoral candidates from Austin Peay’s counseling psychology program.

“The project will last a full academic year and then continue beyond that time,” Shatto said. “The goal is for an ongoing partnership between my research team (STRETCh – Supervision Training Research Evaluation and Treatment for Children) and CYS/Strong Beginnings.”

Participating students are also learning Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, allowing them to provide co-intervention for children at both the University’s Psychological Science & Counseling Clinic and Fort Campbell.

“The impact for students is huge,” Shatto said. “They enjoy doing work that has a real and positive impact on their local community. Yesterday, we were at Fort Campbell as part of the project and had a salient moment in which one child needed support post-tornado.”

Shatto and her team provided coaching to the teacher in real time through bug-in-the-ear technology, helping them to support the child as they recalled the events and feelings they experienced because of the tornado.

“Through moments such as these, students experience how we are able to meet our community members where they are and provide timely support,” she said. “By engaging in co-intervention and co-consultation, students learn firsthand how a psychologist uses their skills, knowledge and compassion to engage in community-level work.”

More about the Bill Wyatt Distinguished Professorship

 The Bill Wyatt Distinguished Professorship was established in 2022 through a gift from the Clarksville-Montgomery County Community Health Foundation (CMCCHF). All full-time tenure and tenure-track faculty in the Departments of Health and Human Performance; Psychological Sciences and Counseling; Social Work and the School of Nursing are eligible to apply. The professorship is awarded for a term of one year, and applicants may receive the award for multiple terms.

CMCCHF aims to use the endowment to provide resources for professors and students in the health sciences. The nonprofit ranks the top three candidates in each award year and submits them to the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences for consideration.

The award was named after Bill Wyatt, who graduated from Austin Peay in 1970 and has been a longtime supporter of the University.