Dr. Amber Knighting
VTSS Systems Coach
Memorial Hall, Rm 7305-F


Dr. Amber Knighting is an Education Coordinator with the Virginia Department of Education’s Region 5 Training and Technical Assistance Center at JMU, specifically assigned to the Virginia Tiered Systems of Support (VTSS) Project. In addition to working with school divisions throughout the state on the sustainable integration of academics, behavior and social-emotional learning, Dr. Knighting also serves as a seminal member of the VTSS Mental Wellness workgroup. In her current role as a Systems Coach, Dr. Knighting is responsible for hosting Virginia’s demonstration site for the integration of Mental Wellness as well as the pilot site for the integration of Early Childhood within a tiered framework. Dr. Knighting’s work with school divisions has been recognized as an exemplar model in The Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development 2019 report From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope as well as the Annie E. Casey’s 2018 guidance document Supporting Social-Emotional Learning with Evidence-Based Programs.

During her time at James Madison University, Dr. Knighting has collaborated with the College of Behavioral Health to offer professional learning opportunities for Pre and In-service Educators around topics such as the impact of brain injuries, trauma, resilience and substance misuse within the school setting. With a professional scholarship interest focused on the progression of research science into policy and practice, Dr. Knighting has presented nationally on social neuroscience and the epigenetic impact of trauma on education.

Prior to James Madison University, Dr. Knighting was the Assistant Director of Learning Services in Counseling and Psychological Services, at George Mason University. In addition to coaching both undergraduate and graduate students at the individual level, Dr. Knighting also served as the primary liaison and instructor of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge Program, housed within the Volgenau School of Engineering.

As a native of the Shenandoah Valley and alumni of James Madison University, Dr. Knighting decided to return home and to the place where her foundation in education and passion for serving students with disabilities was cultivated as a special education teacher and leader for over ten years. When she is not on the road throughout the Commonwealth, Dr. Knighting is at home in her She Shed along the banks of the Shenandoah River, enjoying time with her husband, three sons and one extraordinary Labradoodle, Obi-Wan.


Academic Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science, Special Education
  • Master of Science, Special Education
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Special Education Administration