MSU Special Education Department receives Bush Foundation grant

Minot State University’s Special Education Department was approved for a $206,408 Bush Foundation grant to develop a new approach to recruiting, training, and retaining special education teachers to serve in rural communities.

The grant will fund Project PIPELINE: Planning Initiative to Prepare Educators for Licensure in ND (special) Education. Project PIPELINE will draw together project directors from Certification Central (CC), Minot State and Dakota College at Bottineau.

“New problems call for new solutions,” said Holly Pedersen, Minot State special education chair. “We have always solved problems collaboratively in North Dakota and I’m excited to continue working with my colleagues at DCB and Certification Central to create accessible, quality pathways to become a special education teacher.”

“Partnerships and collaboration are some of the most valuable resources that we as educators have,” said Jackie Migler, education program coordinator and instructor at DCB. “Project PIPELINE will give MSU, DCB, and Certification Central the opportunity to explore options for high school students through dual credit, paraeducators currently working in the school system, and other individuals interested in becoming educators. The grant will also allow us to explore possibilities to assist in alleviating the teacher shortage in special education in North Dakota.”

The grant will help develop a quality framework for a teacher pipeline through curriculum development, technology for distance delivery, travel for coordination and advisory board, student tuition support, mentor recruitment and training, and marketing. Along with the key goal of recruiting, training, and retaining special education teachers, the project will also look to reduce time spent in postsecondary training and transform the current state teacher preparation structure to encourage training programs to compete, inviting all teacher training programs to participate in the pipeline.

“This grant provides us with the collaborative opportunity to bring N.D. teacher training programs together to build a seamless pipeline for advancing individuals from paraprofessionals to special education technicians, and then to licensed special education teachers,” Katherine Terras, Certification Central CEO, said. “We believe this innovative approach will positively impact ND’s teacher shortage.”

With a nationwide critical shortage of qualified special education teachers and the number of students with disabilities increasing, recruiting and retaining teachers, especially in rural states such as North Dakota, have faced increased challenges. Project PIPELINE will formalize streamlined coordination between MSU, DCB, and CC to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. Along with establishing an advisory board, the project will map curriculum paths amongst MSU, DCB, and CC and formulate memorandum of understanding/articulation agreements beneficial for all three entities.

“When organizations come together to help students meet their goals while also supporting the community, everyone wins,” said Laurie Geller, Minot State vice president of academic affairs.

Founded in 1953 by Archibald and Edyth Bush, the Bush Foundation has made grants and investments to support organizations and people who think bigger and think differently about solutions to problems in their communities.


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