Grant Prompts Future Special Ed Teachers to Enroll in UNH Training Program

DURHAM N.H.
Thanks to several federal grants, New
Hampshire soon may be seeing more special education
teachers.

In the past two years, no one enrolled in a UNH
program to train teachers for students with intellectual and developmental
disabilities. But the school has recently received applications from six
students for this fall and says another six say they plan to apply.

Cheryl Jorgensen, assistant research professor at UNH’s
Institute on Disability, is hoping 20 people will start its two-year program in
the fall. Under a federal grant, 40 students in the program will get free
tuition.

Funded by $2.4 million in grants over four years, UNH
plans to offer reduced or free tuition to 120 students looking to pursue or
expand careers as special-education teachers.

“That’s wonderful,” said Judith Fillion of the
state Department of Education. “This is no different than corporations
offering bonus pay” or paying employees to go back to school.

New Hampshire has been in need of special-education teachers
at least as far back as 1984.

A state report issued last year showed New Hampshire
colleges and universities during the 2004-05 school year produced only 22
teachers specializing in working with students who have mental retardation, are
emotionally disturbed or have a learning disability.

Statewide, there are slightly more than 2,500 teachers
certified in special education. Last December, 31,399 special-ed students were
identified statewide, representing 13.8 percent of the total student
population.

UNH announced last week
it had received three grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

One will produce 40 state-certified teachers in early
childhood special education. They will receive 50 percent tuition reimbursement
and earn a master’s degree in education in two years.

The second will prepare people to work with children who use
alternative communication techniques to learn core subjects. Some
special-education students, for instance, need technology, such as a computer,
to communicate with their teachers.

Students will get at least a partial break on tuition.

The third will help train teachers to work with those with
intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as mental retardation.

“These are kids with the most intensive support needs
in order for them to benefit from their education programs,” Jorgensen
said.

People enrolled in this program will earn an advanced level
of certification.

Information from: The Telegraph,
http://www.nashuatelegraph.com


– Associated Press



© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com