A professor from Delaware State University has been awarded a $1.06 million federal grant to create a certificate program for special education. The grant will also pay the cost for participants – and even give them a stipend.
“This grant will cover their full tuition, books and certification testing fees, and they will also get a small stipend,” she said. “I have always been an advocate for removing the financial burden on teachers, because we know that teachers are not paid enough.”
The ongoing national teacher shortage has affected Delaware, and certain subjects are even harder to find teachers, like science, math and special education.
The program offers master-degree level courses that will enable more teachers to earn a special education certification, with the hopes of reducing the shortage of special education teachers in the state.
As of the summer 2023, there were 165 vacant special education teaching positions in the First State.
“The need for special education teachers in Delaware is critical,” Juergensen said. “Without intervention, the severe shortages and subsequent negative impact on students with disabilities will continue to prevail.”
The courses will be offered to teachers already working in Delaware school systems.
They will focus on providing teachers with the competencies needed to provide effective and culturally and linguistically responsive instruction to improve outcomes for children with disabilities.
Participants will learn how to practice within ethical and legal guidelines, address each student’s developmental and learning needs and apply evidence-based literacy instruction for students with disabilities.
The program will also teach educators how to create a safe, respectful and productive learning environment for students with special needs. This includes training them in intervention strategies.
During the first year of the grant, Juergensen will develop and finalize Project DE-SPEC courses, build relationships with school districts and recruit teachers to enroll.
The first group of teachers will begin their course work in the fall of 2024.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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