RIO GRANDE — The University of Rio Grande has been awarded a new incentive grant by the Ohio Deans Compact on Exceptional Children.
The university is one of eight schools to receive the Ohio Deans Compact on Special Education Incentive grant.
The Compact awards these grants to support substantial restructuring and redesign of existing programs. Dr. Monica Hummons, assistant professor for the Bunce School of Education, says the university will be able to use this grant to provide students in area schools with access to teachers who are qualified to teach a larger variety of students.
“There is not a lot of intervention happening prior to an official evaluation and testing for a disability. Teachers are supposed to be able to provide evidence-based intervention to students with exceptional needs,” Hummons said. “This grant will help prepare more teachers coming from Rio to provide intervention in their own classrooms and help children keep up with their school work.”
Hummons said this grant gives the University of Rio Grande the opportunity to prepare teacher candidates in single licensure programs to effectively teach students with a wider range of needs without having to get a second license.
“Our focus area for this grant is to create a program that gives our students a dual licensure, meaning they can receive a license in both general education for early childhood and in special education as an intervention specialist,” Hummons said. “Current students getting an early childhood education licensure only receive one course about intervention early on to help them understand the diversity they will experience in the classroom.”
Hummons said this new program will also benefit area school systems by providing teachers with a stronger background in education and student teachers who can leave their mark on the schools.
“This program will help solidify our relationships with area schools so we can address their needs as well as our students. It will lead to much stronger teachers coming out of the university who have learned strategies and skills that will help all students. We can provide the schools with teachers who can provide an education for students with disabilities, are at risk, and even gifted students,” Hummons said. “Our students will be out in their field experience with mentor teachers who are also able to take from this program just by working with our students and seeing them use the skills they are required to master.”
Hummons and Dr. Valerie Valentine, associate professor for the Bunce School of Education, have been working toward the grant’s approval and are now heading the committee to set up the new program. Over the next year, the program will go through a process for design and several stages of approval. Hummons said if the program is approved, she and Valentine hope to have it in place by the fall 2017 semester.
“We’re very excited to have this opportunity. We have already been talking about creating a new program that will eliminate the intervention specialist program and the early childhood program as they are and blend them, and now we have the incentive and the funding to create it from scratch,” Hummons said.
Hummons said the development phase of the program will be completed by June 30.