Henderson State University will offer an opportunity for licensed public school educators in grades K-12 to earn an additional Special Education Resource endorsement and participate in job-embedded professional development while receiving graduate school hours - at no cost.
Henderson is partnering with Harding University and John Brown University to offer the Special Education Resource Teacher Academy launched by the Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education.
For those who participate, DESE will pay tuition fees for up to 15 graduate school credit hours needed to obtain the endorsement, as well as licensure assessment fees.
“The Special Education Resource Teacher Academy joins other Teach Arkansas recruitment efforts to address teacher shortages in critical subject areas,” said Johnny Key, ADE secretary. “This pathway helps educators achieve professional development goals while also meeting an essential need for quality educators in special education classrooms.
“I’m excited for the division to offer this opportunity to educators, and I am confident that students will greatly benefit from having these teachers in the classroom.”
For more than a decade, special education has been designated as an academic critical shortage area, according to the ADE. This new pathway will empower and equip content teachers with the knowledge necessary to provide students who have a variety of diverse learning needs, with and without disabilities, the support necessary to meet grade-level expectations.
Additionally, educators obtaining this endorsement will be able to provide special education services within the general education classroom, as supplementary supports, or in special education classrooms. This will expand the district's ability to consider and offer a variety of special education service delivery models.
With the growing emphasis on inclusive practices, this opportunity will assist in preparing Arkansas school districts with the skilled staff needed to lead the nation in student-focused “inclusive” education.
The first cohorts begin this summer, with educators receiving ongoing sessions and support throughout the school year as they apply new concepts in their classrooms.
Participating educators also will be part of the Novice Special Education Teacher Mentoring Program at their local education service cooperative, where they will receive additional coaching, professional development, regional networking opportunities, and support throughout the school year.
To participate in the academy, interested educators will apply with one of the partnering universities. The academy must be completed by July 31 of the year following acceptance into the program.