BY JENNIFER PARKS – The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Education (COE) was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Project Laulima (“many hands”) involves the Institute for Teacher Education, Elementary and Early Childhood Program (ITE Elementary), the Department of Special Education (SPED), and the Center on Disability Studies (CDS).
The goal of the project is to redesign the college’s elementary and special education program over the next five years. The existing BEd K–6 dual general and special education program has functioned largely as two separate programs in which teacher candidates were simultaneously enrolled. Project Laulima will support faculty to work together to collaboratively design, implement, and evaluate a new blended and merged elementary and special education preparation program.
The COE was one of nine institutions in the nation to receive this special education program improvement grant. Elementary program director Donna Grace, special education chair Amelia Jenkins, and Dean Chris Sorensen will provide leadership for the project. “With this new program, we will be able to serve and prepare teachers for tomorrow’s classrooms,” said Grace. “It’s beyond just merging SPED and general education.”
The redesigned program will merge standards-based coursework and provide tutoring and other support services; merge and expand clinical practice with mentoring and induction; and incorporate instructional approaches that address the challenges of high need children with high-incidence disabilities.
Added Jenkins, “It is no longer an option to prepare teachers who are not trained to teach the children in today’s elementary classrooms, both those with and without disabilities.”
As part of the grant project, an advisory committee will be established consisting of representatives from the Hawaiʻi DOE, Hawaiʻi Teacher Standards Board, parents of students with disabilities, and UH Mānoa faculty.