To address the historic shortages in special education teachers around the country, Bowie State University has developed two new programs to train special educators to work with children with disabilities from diverse cultural backgrounds, with two grants from the Department of Education, totaling $2.5 million. With both projects, Bowie State will train 78 new special educators to meet the growing demand.
Special Education Scholarships
Project Special Education Early Development (Project SEED) will provide full scholarships to 33 professionals outside of the field who are interested in becoming special education teachers. The students, divided into two cohorts, will work toward a specialized Master of Arts in Teaching degree, with a focus on early childhood special education. The degree will take 2.5 years to complete and include 150 hours of fieldwork in urban settings, support in developing research, collaboration with parents and community agencies, and ongoing mentoring.
Special Educators Program Recruiting
Dr. William Drakeford, Project SEED coordinator and Bowie State Associate Professor, said that the program is designed to increase the number of highly qualified special educators to work with diverse populations. Over the next few months, he will develop the tools and processes to recruit new students, with a goal of starting the program in fall 2016 or January 2017.
About 18 months ago, Dr. Drakeford received funding for another initiative to train 45 new special educators to teach young children called Project Early Childhood Engagement Center. This project seeks to train students with an associate’s degree or equivalent college credits to take specialized courses over two years to complete a bachelor’s degree in early childhood special education. The first of two cohorts has already begun the 65-credit degree program – Dr. Drakeford is recruiting students for the next group that is set to start in fall 2016.
“There have been significant teacher shortages in special education – for decades. Any time you have an opportunity to increase qualified special educators, you want to take advantage of it,” he said. “Children with disabilities deserve to have well-qualified teachers who know how to address their individual needs. Children from diverse backgrounds often have even greater challenges. They need educators who are competent, genuine and passionate about helping them to succeed.”
Project SEED Consulting and Development
For Project SEED, Dr. Drakeford consulted with some of the foremost experts in special education from around the country lent their knowledge to the program’s development, including Drs. Vivian Correra from the University of North Carolina Charlotte, Leonard Baca from the University of Colorado Boulder, and Elizabeth Cramer from the University of South Florida.
Additional Bowie State collaborators and advisors in the College of Education include Project SEED co-coordinator Dr. Lynne Long, Associate Dean Joy Banks, Associate Professor Constance Brooks, Department Chair Kimetta Hairston, Assistant Professor Julius Davis, Professor Barbara Smith and Assistant Professor Felecia Valdez.
Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) applauded Bowie State’s initiative saying, “It is important that we ensure that our institutions of higher education are training teachers and faculty to have the necessary skills and knowledge they need to serve children with special needs.”
Source: Bowie State University