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Preparing Special Education Preschool Teachers

Project Funded by $1.25 Million U.S. Department of Education Award

Sept. 26, 2013

Eight teacher credential students are taking part in a new scholarship program beginning this fall that addresses the shortage of early childhood special education teachers.

A $1.25 million U.S. Department of Education grant award, secured by Janice Myck-Wayne, associate professor of special education, funds "Supporting Teacher Advancement and Retention" in early childhood special education, or Project STAR.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) supported the project, which focuses on inclusion of special needs children in general education preschool classrooms.

"The needs in California for personnel, who are trained to work with families and their young children in inclusive settings, are great," said Sanchez in her congressional letter of support. The project, she added, "is critical in meeting this need."

In California, there are more than 75,000 young children, including about 14,000 children in Southern California, receiving special education services, said Myck-Wayne.

"There is an urgent need to train and retain culturally and linguistically diverse teachers in the areas of English-language learners, inclusion, collaboration and evidence-based practices with high-need children and families in poverty school districts," she explained.

The five-year grant will fund 32 students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. Teacher candidates each will receive about $18,000 to pay for tuition, books and supplies and professional development activities.

STAR scholar Tanesha Taylor of Fullerton, who works in local schools with children with challenging behaviors and disorders, is eager to receive more training to become a teacher.

"Through the STAR grant program, I trust I will become more confident in carrying out my desire of becoming a teacher in special education and making a positive difference in the lives of others," she said.

Other 2013-14 STAR scholars are:

  • Erica Borrowdale of Anaheim
  • Lisa Brantley of Cypress
  • Jennifer Diogostine of Fountain Valley
  • Kayla Edgmon of Anaheim
  • Marissa Gruenwald of Aliso Viejo
  • Amy Kim of Pomona
  • Mary Liska of Whittier

Other STAR faculty are:

  • Melinda R. Pierson, chair and professor of special education
  • Suzanne E. Robinson, associate professor of special education
  • Vita L. Jones, assistant professor of special education
  • Rosario Ordoñez-Jasis, professor of reading

Through the five-semester program, students will receive training for preliminary and clear educational specialist credentials required by the state to teach children with special needs. They also will receive classroom training through partnerships with Anaheim and Santa Ana schools, as well as CSUF's Children's Center.

Additionally, CSUF education faculty members students will provide mentoring support during their first year of teaching. "Ongoing mentoring is critical to teacher success," Myck-Wayne said.

The grant also funds offering early childhood educators teaching in local schools and community settings, professional development to learn effective inclusion practices for their own classrooms and development of a new course on inclusion strategies for preschool environments.

This grant continues work Myck-Wayne began in 2009 under a U.S. Department of Education grant of nearly $746,000. That award funded training 42 credential students to promote inclusion in mainstream classrooms.

Tags:  Academics & Research