A scholarship effort designed to help grapple with the shortage of special education teachers in Southern California recently welcomed its first cohort of students.
The Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP) and Special Educators of Excellence in Diverse Settings (SEEDS) scholarship program are funded with state and federal grants respectively. The College of Education & Integrative Studies received a $1.1 million U.S. Department of Education grant in 2017.
The college also received more than $240,000 in grant funding last year from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to help support students who desire to teach children with disabilities.
ITEP offers a combined 4-year bachelor’s degree and credential program and SEEDS provides full tuition scholarships to assist students in earning both their credential and master’s degree in special education.
“We are very excited to recognize our first cohort of students,” said Assistant Professor Heather Wizikowski, director of SEEDS. “This is an amazing opportunity for our programs to positively influence the next generation of our region’s special education teachers. Our first cohort of scholars is a diverse and dynamic group of teachers and we are excited about the passion they are going to bring to the profession.”
Throughout their coursework, ITEP students will focus on inclusive education and disability as an aspect of diversity, as well as integrating technology for teaching and learning. They will also engage in early field experiences with students with disabilities and their families.
SEEDS scholars will be engaged in coursework that is newly aligned with SEEDS project competencies that are best practices for working with students with intensive support needs. They will also participate in collaborative course assignments between the adapted physical education and education specialist programs.
“At a time when local schools are faced with a critical shortage of special education teachers, we are thrilled to launch these invaluable programs,” said Assistant Professor Joanne Van Boxtel, director of ITEP. “Our goal is to prepare our students with the skills they need to be effective educators and change makers for inclusive education.”
The first cohort of students include: