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New program seeks to alleviate Indiana’s shortage of special education teachers

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Education has teamed up with the University of Indianapolis to attempt to recruit extra special education teachers.

Education officers throughout Indiana say the state has confronted a shortage of special ed teachers for some time.

“This is a very real, I would classify, crisis,” mentioned Laura Hammack, superintendent of Beech Grove City Schools.

Before turning into a superintendent, Hammack taught special ed for a number of years.

“It is challenging, but it is unbelievably rewarding,” she mentioned of the expertise.

Now in her job working Beech Grove City Schools, one of the challenges she faces is discovering special ed teachers.

“We had a number of positions that went unfilled, or we had to be innovative with licensure in order to be able to fill some of the special education positions that we’ve had,” Hammack mentioned.

A brand new state program seeks to discover a everlasting answer by recruiting extra teachers to higher serve all college students on individualized education plans (IEPs).

“There’s, at last count, about 185,000 active IEPs in the state, and there’s something like 250 vacant special ed positions,” defined Carey Dahncke, government director of the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) on the University of Indianapolis.

The new program permits teachers to turn out to be licensed in special ed by attending a free on-line graduate program by way of UIndy, Taylor University or Indiana Wesleyan University, he mentioned.

“We would hope that we eventually get 300 new teachers into the field,” Dahncke mentioned.

The $2 million greenback program is federally funded, partially by the COVID aid packages, in accordance to Holly Lawson, deputy director of communications for the Indiana Department of Education.

“This program is meant to provide a convenient, accessible option for our special education teachers and to make it really affordable,” she mentioned.

The program additionally provides scholarships to Hoosiers already pursuing a special ed profession, Lawson mentioned. And it gives monetary help to these with a bachelor’s diploma wanting to transition to education from one other profession, she added

Hammack mentioned she hopes it’s a path many teachers will contemplate.

“It’s an absolute joy, and the students give you so much more than we could ever give back to them,” she mentioned.

For extra data on the program and the way to enroll, click on right here.