Magiera and her colleague, associate professor Rhea Simmons, have been awarded
a $500,000 grant from the US Department of Education to improve their unique
teacher preparation program. Theirs was one of only 12 grants awarded last year.
The need for special education teachers is high, especially in New York, Magiera
says. So the program, and the enhancements to educational programs enabled by
the new funding, will make Fredonia graduates all that much more attractive
to employers. “Some districts won’t even talk to you unless you
have both certifications,” Magiera says.
Educating teachers is one way SUNY contributes to a seamless educational pipeline
in New York. Fredonia may well be a trendsetter, as other schools are left struggling
over how to meet federal mandates that teachers must be prepared to address
the needs of all students, Simmons says.
In addition to teaching general and special education at the same time, Fredonia
graduates a large number of teachers each year and its location provides a good
test case for placing dually trained teachers in rural school districts.
New efforts are in place to collaborate with rural schools to better prepare
teachers for those settings and improve the chances that they will stay. “Living
and teaching in a community is the total picture,” Simmons says.
Fredonia will also offer professional development opportunities for working
teachers and will improve mentoring programs for new teachers.