The U.S. Department of Education reportedly awarded the University of St. Thomas School of Education in Houston, Texas, a $1.25 million grant over the next five years to prepare graduate students for leadership positions in special education.
The program, called the Special Education Leaders Program, is a partnership between the faithful Catholic college and the Houston Independent School District. UST will award 80 Master of Education degrees with emphasis on special education leadership because there is currently a shortage of special education leaders.
“We are thrilled to partner with the University of St. Thomas on this initiative that will help Houston’s schools better serve students in our special education program,” HISD Superintendent Terry Grier reportedly said. “In HISD, we believe that all students deserve to attend schools that are run by highly effective campus leaders, and that is especially true for students with special needs.”
Dr. Randy Soffer, an assistant professor in UST’s School of Education, said, “There is a need to improve the quality of special education services. Teaching special education students needs to go beyond just focusing on academic gain. The focus also needs to be on the big picture – mainly, post-secondary education and employment opportunities. This program addresses how we can create a higher quality leadership in special education programs that will result in better outcomes for children with high needs or disabilities.”
For every year students in the program receive a scholarship from the grant, they are required to give two years of service in a special education leadership role with a focus on low-performing/high-poverty schools.
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