June 28, 2011
Cheryl Reitan | Interim director | UMD Public Relations and Marketing | 218 726-8996 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Joyce Strand | UMD Department of Education Head | 218 726-7233 | email@example.com
Integrated Elementary and Special Education Program
The University of Minnesota Duluth has created a program focusing on educating future teachers to fully include students with special needs into the classroom setting. "It is truly an integrated program," said Joyce Strand, head of the education department at UMD. "Most universities have a class here and there that will teach special education in the elementary classroom, but the program at UMD is fully integrated and collaborative between special education and elementary education faculty. It qualifies graduates of our program to teach K-6 elementary education and K-12 special education. It's a competitive and marketable degree on a national level."
Because the teacher has had the training to educate, challenge, integrate, and encourage those students, children with special needs are engaged with the rest of the class. "The program focuses on the learning environment with diverse learners, not just the class as a whole," Strand said. "The UMD program teaches strategies in a practicum setting. The student teaching experience is in both elementary and special education settings. This is Minnesota's only undergraduate Integrated Elementary Special Education teacher preparation program." Other universities in Minnesota have a choice of adding special education but at UMD it is a requirement for all elementary education majors.
Degree seeking college students who successfully complete the Bachelor of Applied Science degree from the Integrated Elementary and Special Education (IESE) program are qualified to apply for state licensure to teach K-6 elementary education and K-12 special education in the areas of learning disabilities and emotional behavioral disorders.
In addition to the integrated special education program, the UMD Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Language Revitalization and UMD Department of Education has partnered with the Augsburg College Master of Arts in Education in the Twin Cities and created the online Naadamaadiwin Tribal Special Education Cohort. The cohort gives special attention to American Indian students and teachers. The online courses equal four semesters and one summer session of instruction. Students from both campuses are required to meet in Hinckley, Minnesota twice a semester. This program is supported with a personnel training grant from the Minnesota Department of Education.
The cooperative program was formed and installed after eight years of planning. Input came from native cohorts and educational leaders. The backbone of the program was based on Martin Brokenleg's book Circle of Courage. Throughout the book, Brokenleg discusses youth who are at risk and the education standards that would need to change in order to improve their chances at success. "The book served as a model," Strand said. "And during a conference at which Brokenleg spoke, we were inspired to create a program at UMD that reflected his philosophy."