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College of Education brings eight rural districts together for special education institute
Friday, August 20, 2010

 

Twenty teachers from eight rural school districts came together at the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator on Aug. 17 to give presentations to SUNY Fredonia College of Education faculty about inclusive teaching practices.  Project RAISE-UP (Redesigning and Improving Special Education - Undergraduate Program) hosted the event entitled, “Raising the Bar through Inclusive Practices in Rural School Districts.”
 
The summer institute was the “kick-off” for year two of the five-year federal grant received by Drs. Kathleen Magiera and Rhea Simmons from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.
 
Teams of two or three teachers, composed of special and general education teachers, shared their experiences in collaborating with each other to instruct students with various learning needs. School districts represented included   Chautauqua Lake, Dunkirk, Eden, Frontier, Randolph, Ripley, Silver Creek, and Westfield. Many of the teachers were SUNY Fredonia alumni returning to campus to share their teaching experiences with past mentors and professors.
 
The program improvement grant focuses on the enhancement of the College of Education’s merged special and general education teacher preparation program by partnering with local rural school districts. Inclusive practices provide instruction for students with and without disabilities mostly in the general education classroom. Teacher candidates are prepared to take on the role of special education teachers or general education teachers when they are hired by school districts.
 
Kimberly Moritz, a SUNY Fredonia alumna and currently Superintendent of the Randolph Central School District, was the keynote speaker. She emphasized the need to understand every child and provide for their individual needs. She also explained how special and general educators can accomplish this through a team approach when working with students with and without disabilities. Ms. Moritz shared her personal beliefs on teaching and learning stressing the importance of teaching all students with “passion, innovation and leadership.”
 
Following the keynote address, faculty viewed and discussed poster presentations which highlighted special and general education teachers’ inclusive practices in eight rural schools at grade levels from kindergarten to high school. A panel discussion followed the presentations. Discussion was moderated by Dr. Spencer Salend of SUNY New Paltz, the outside program evaluator for the grant. The teams of special education and general education teachers provided a rich discussion on inclusive practices including: collaboration techniques, accomplishments and challenges of working with students with and without disabilities, and the different roles of special education and general education teachers in inclusive settings. Teachers were also asked to speak to the enhancements needed in preparing teacher candidates to be successful in working with other professionals.
 
Drs. Magiera and Simmons noted that the summer institute provided an opportunity for enhancing the College of Education’s partnerships with local rural school districts, providing a forum for faculty to exchange ideas with exemplary special education and general education teachers working within inclusive settings. The summer institute was designed by Drs. Magiera and Simmons in collaboration with the College of Education Founding Dean Christine Givner. Other members of the Grant Planning Group included Dr. Larry Maheady, Dr. Barbara Mallette, and Dr. Laura Geraci.
 

 

 

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