Release Date: November 16, 2010
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Six University at Buffalo doctorate students in the University at Buffalo/Buffalo State College Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education will receive up to $40,000 a year apiece in tuition assistance and a modest stipend, thanks to a highly competitive four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education designed to address a national and local shortage of highly skilled special-education teacher-educators.
The four-year, $1.2 million grant -- 80 percent of which goes directly for student scholarships -- will be used to train six doctoral students who will assume leadership positions in special-education teacher training programs at colleges and universities.
The doctoral students will be trained to prepare future teachers to use media, technology and communication tools that will help students with disabilities, according to Sharon Raimondi, PhD, adjunct associate professor in the Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education in UB's Graduate School of Education and project director for the Department of Education's special-education training program.
They will teach teachers how to provide greater access for students with disabilities, consistent with principles of universal design for learning, and deliver technology-rich instructional environments.
"There is a severe shortage in this country of special-education teachers to work with students with disabilities" says Raimondi. "Adding to this challenge, the country has a severe shortage of people at the college level to train these teachers."
The six students who will receive up to $40,000 per year -- for tuition, fees, books and compensation to leave their jobs while they are being trained -- will become part of a cadre of professionals with the skills, knowledge and abilities to train special-education teachers and to teach them how to provide greater access to the curriculum for students with disabilities.
And if an established pattern continues, these future teachers will remain in the area and directly contribute to the quality of life for special-education teachers and, more importantly, the students and their families who they serve, Raimondi says. Graduates of the program will be able to meet the shortage of services now available for those in special-education classes.
"We know that students traditionally attend an institution within 100 miles of their homes," Raimondi says. "That's standard. Almost 90 percent of our doctoral graduates stay in Western New York. Many are employed as faculty at such institutions as Buffalo State College, Canisius College and SUNY Fredonia. So this grant is a shot in the arm for Western New York.
"We are creating the future."
The federal grant is part of almost $20 million going to higher education institutions to help prepare special-education personnel to improve services and results for children with disabilities. Raimondi says the grant was very competitive. UB and Buffalo State College, which are partners in the grant, were one of 22 grant proposals chosen to receive money from 90 applications. Kevin J. Miller, EdD, chairman of the Exceptional Education Department at Buffalo State College, will be co-principal investigator on the project with Raimondi.
The UB/Buffalo State College Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education grant is part of federal money devoted to "Preparation of Leadership Personnel" grants, money that will be used to support doctoral, postdoctoral and special-education administration degree programs. The program is specifically designed to train professionals who address the needs of these students.
For more information on the program, including how to apply for the scholarships, contact Raimondi at Raimondi@buffalo.edu or call 716-645-5042. Students from culturally and linguistically diverse populations, as well as individuals with disabilities, are encouraged to apply.