Portrait image of Susan Johnson
Susan Johnson

Chair, Department of Education

Associate Professor

Contact Information

OFFICE: Hirt 300D
PHONE: 814-824-3370

Susan D. Johnson, Ph.D. is associate professor of Special Education and chair of the Education Department. Her primary teaching areas are in high and low incidence disabilities, family and community relationships in education, and autism spectrum disorders. Prior to teaching at Mercyhurst, Dr. Johnson was employed for 15 years as a public school and private agency speech/language therapist and special education teacher. She has been at Mercyhurst since 2010.

Dr. Johnson specializes in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders and emotional and behavioral disorders of children. Her scholarly interests coalesce around educational justice, particularly in rural, disadvantaged areas and with children and families in poverty.

Dr. Johnson prides herself on being a master teacher who is passionate about preparing students for excellence, in and out of the classroom.  She has established University-to-school partnerships with some of the area’s most at-risk school communities and seeks to develop capacity for leadership in both undergraduate and graduate student populations.  

About Dr. Johnson
    • Ph.D., Organizational Learning & Leadership, Gannon University, Dissertation: “A Phenomenological Study of Pre-service Teacher Perceptions of Children in Poverty and Families who are Poor”    
    • M.S. Ed., Special Education, St. Bonaventure University, Thesis:  “Facilitating and Increasing Turn-taking Skills in Children with Autism Using Neurotypical Peers as Models for Communication”
    • B.S. Ed., Speech Pathology and Audiology, State University of New York at Fredonia  


    EDUC 305: Family & Community Relationships in Education
    EDUC 109: Psychology of Diverse Learners
    EDUC 307: Low Incidence Disabilities: Effective Instructional Practices
    EDUC 308: Low Incidence Disabilities: Clinical Experience
    EDUC 309: High Incidence Disabilities: Instructional Practices
    EDUC 310: High Incidence Disabilities: Clinical Experience 


    EDUC 540: Introduction to Autism

    Awarding Agency: Pennsylvania Department of Education 

    PA Smart Advancing Grant 

    STEM & Vine: A Learning Ecosystem that Advances Rural Equity in CS/STEM Access and Opportunity 

    Role: Primary Investigator

    Award: $500,000

    Federal Awarding Agency: U.S. Department of Education
    21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Cohort 10 (2019-2024)
    Mercyhurst Early Learning Innovation Academy (MELIA)
    Role: Primary Investigator

    Award: $3,000,000

    Federal Awarding Agency: U.S. Department of Education
    21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Cohort 10 (2019-2024)
    Carpe Diem Academy 
    Role: Grant Writer

    Award: $2,000,000

    Awarding Agency: Pennsylvania Department of Education

    Innovative Prep2Practice Grant

    NextGen814: Preparing Erie’s Next Generation of Teachers

    Role: Grant Director

    Award: $100,000

    Commencement 2023: Susan Johnson receives Teaching Excellence Award. https://www.mercyhurst.edu/news/commencement-2023-susan-johnson-receives-teaching-excellence-award.