Deborah L. Rooks-Ellis

Deborah Rooks-EllisAssistant Professor of Special Education
Phone: 207.581.2352
Fax: 207.581.2423

5766 Shibles Hall, Rm 306
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5766

Bio: Deborah L. Rooks-Ellis is currently an assistant professor of special education at the University of Maine College of Education and Human Development as well as director of the Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research.

Deborah began her career at UMaine in 2009 after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Arizona. She has extensive experience in the field of education. After completing her BSEd at the University of Georgia in early childhood education, she worked as a first grade teacher and a third grade teacher in Carroll County, Md. Deborah continued to work in early childhood education while completing her MSEd in visual impairments at The Johns Hopkins University. She worked as an itinerant teacher of the visually impaired in Maryland, Georgia and Maine. In 2007, Deborah began her Ph.D. studies at the University of Arizona and upon completion, returned to Maine where she accepted a position as assistant research professor in special education. She recently accepted the tenure-track position.

Deborah’s early scholarship focused on students with visual impairment and inquiry-based science. Her scholarship now focuses on children with autism spectrum disorder, as well as personnel preparation. To date, Deborah has been awarded two Office of Special Education federal personnel preparation grants, as both principal investigator and co-PI, totaling $3 million. Additionally, Deborah has been awarded $1 million in cooperative agreements with the state of Maine to focus on providing professional development to support to children and adolescents with autism and their families.

Deborah lives with her husband, Matt, and four children in Bangor, Maine.

University of Arizona, 2009, Ph.D., Low Incidence Disabilities and Visual Impairment
The Johns Hopkins University, 1993, MSEd., Low Incidence Disabilities and Visual Impairment
University of Georgia, 1990, BSEd., Early Childhood Education

Courses taught at UMaine

  • SED 610 Internship in Special Education Teaching
  • SED 620 Practicum in Special Education
  • SED 655 Graduate Capstone in Early Intervention

Sample publications

  • Rooks-Ellis, D., Mason, C., Tu, S., Flanagan, S., LaBrie, S., Gladstone, M. (in progress). Preliminary results of the Early Start project:  Improved outcomes for very young children with autism
  • Rooks-Ellis, D., Scheibel, G., Flanagan, S., Gladstone, M. (in review). A systematic statewide implementation model to improve access to evidence-based intervention for young children with autism spectrum disorder. Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities (Refereed)
  • Rooks-Ellis, D. (2017). The scholars project:  Maine’s distance education model for preparing early childhood special educators to work with young children with disabilities. Rural Special Education Quarterly. (Refereed).
  • Rooks-Ellis, D. (2015).  Maine Parent Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder:  What to do when you suspect an ASD.
  • Rooks-Ellis, D. (2015).  Maine Parent Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder: Accessing educational services, social services, and interventions.
  • Rooks-Ellis, D. (2015).  Maine Parent Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder:  Resource guide for Maine families.
  • Rooks-Ellis, D. (2014).  Inquiry-based education for students with visual impairment. ISRN Education. (Refereed).
  • Harris, C.J., & Rooks, D.L. (2011).  Managing inquiry-based science: Challenges in enacting complex science instruction in elementary and middle school classrooms.  National Science Teachers Association – selected as “research worth reading” for science teachers. (Refereed).

Connect with Deborah on LinkedIn
Visit the Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research website: