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Financial Assistance Continues to Prepare Teachers in Special Education

Kansas children in elementary through high school will have a better chance at getting their needs met by a special education teacher thanks to renewed funding for a grant given to Emporia State University.

More than 40 Kansas educators are projected to complete necessary coursework to become high incidence special education teachers by the end of the spring 2020 semester.

“Children who need special education in schools usually fall within what we call ‘high-incidence’ special education,” said Dr. Marjorie Bock, professor of special education at Emporia State and grant co-director. “High incidence disabilities include students with emotional and/or behavioral disorders, learning disabilities and mild intellectual disabilities.”

The goal of the program is to increase the number of certified teachers in hard-to-fill areas – both academic areas and underserved geographic areas in Kansas.

This is the fifth year of the project funded by the Kansas Board of Regents, with funding for 2020-21 to be $116,000. The resources allow The Teachers College Special Education Fellowship Program to offer 20 fellowships for 2020-21, an increase from the 18 available this past year.

The ESU program partners with special education cooperatives or school districts as part of this grant, including: Blue Valley USD 229, Derby USD 260, Flint Hills Special Education Cooperative (Emporia), Garden City USD 457, Northwest Kansas Educational Service Center (Oakley), Southwest Kansas Area Cooperative (Ensign), Spring Hill USD 230, and Topeka USD 501. This grant allows the ESU high incidence special education program to partner with any school district or special education cooperative in Kansas.

The TCSEFP is an online, 11-month fellowship program that leads to completion of a high incidence special education endorsement. Those participating in the fellowship program complete 24 credits of graduate coursework over an 11-month time period. They receive tuition assistance from a KBOR grant and other funding sources. They also benefit from intense, explicit mentoring throughout their first year teaching special education.

Fellows need to be admitted into the program by June 12, 2020. Summer coursework begins June 15, 2020. Students who will be teaching high incidence special education on a waiver in August 2020 are eligible to participate in the TCSEFP.

Kansas school districts or special education cooperatives interested in partnering with ESU, as well as educators wanting to apply for a fellowship, need to contact Dr. Kelly O’Neal-Hixson (, the grant’s co-director.

“Continuation of grant funding for a fifth year is due to the many positive comments made by graduates of the TCSEFP,” Bock said. “KBOR has been very satisfied with the results we are generating.”