CSU–Pueblo earns $1.7 million for Special Education Initiative

Colorado State University – Pueblo will help to curb the alarming national shortage of special education and linguistically diverse educators thanks to a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. CSU-Pueblo will earn nearly $400,000 in the first year of a $1.975 million grant, one of 41 grants totaling $22.1 million granted through the U.S. Department of Education’s Transition to Teaching program. The grants are intended to increase the pool of qualified teachers in high-need schools in high-need districts by recruiting non-traditional teacher candidates, preparing them through alternative routes to certification, and increasing retention through strong mentoring programs, according to U .S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

The five-year grants support recruitment of mid-career professionals, recent college graduates, and paraprofessionals into the teaching profession. Projects include strong mentoring aspects in order to retain these new teachers for at least three years, which increases the likelihood that the teachers will remain in the profession.

CSU-Pueblo and the Southern Colorado Teacher Education Alliance (SCTEA) will respond to this need with The Southern Colorado Special Education Initiative (SCSEI) to recruit, train, and retain highly qualified teaching candidates as part of a five-year program meant to improve educational opportunities for all K-12 students in southern Colorado.

The SCSEI will study the impact of the poverty and rural isolation which statistically characterizes much of southern and southeastern Colorado and will attempt to directly address the unmet need for SCTEA partner districts, including Pueblo City School Districts, to recruit and retain educators in the fields of special education, ESL, and other high need subject areas such as math, English, and science.

According to Victoria Marquesen, associate dean of teacher education at CSU-Pueblo,
the initiative aims to develop a pool of quality candidates, designing standards and performance-based programs specifically for the southern and southeastern Colorado region, and provide support services for the recruits in the form of a strong web presence and coaches, mentors, and building principals who will be required to attend specially designed training programs on working with new teachers. Funds for Year 1 of the program will go towards program development, including securing approval for new programs through the Colorado Department of Education.

More information on the Transition to Teaching program may be found at  http://www.ed.gov/programs/transitionteach/index.html.

For more information on the initiative, contact Marquesen at (719) 549-2681 or by e-mail  victoria.marquesen@colostate-pueblo.edu.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.