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Grant awarded to UH for multilingual educators of inclusive learning

Chelsea Beck

Many incentives to increase the amount of trained special education teachers in the state have been put in motion over the past year — yet some educators still aren't quite satisfied with the number of vacancies that remain.

Professors at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education want to open up opportunities for aspiring bilingual and multilingual teachers of color.

SPED professor and chair Jenny Wells started Project Equal Access, a four-year-long course supplement that aims to 'support diverse special educators,' said Wells.

Project Equal Access received $1.6 million from the U.S. Education Department to increase and retain special education teachers. The College of Education's project will complement the already existing programs while adding elements of recruitment, preparation and retention into the courses.

Wells said she wants to see multilingual students join the workforce.

"I think it makes it easier when teachers in the community reflect the community," she told HPR.

"There’s a lot of research that shows that. And it allows those teachers to have a more nuanced perspective of the behaviors and the learning styles of those students because they understand them. They’re from the same community," said Wells.

Project Equal Access seeks to address disproportionately underrepresented groups of special education teachers including Native Hawaiians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Grant activities will address five areas:

  1. Reduction of inequity and inadequacy in resources and opportunities in teaching license programs.
  2. Increase in the effective use of technology, instructional techniques, and strategies.
  3. Preparation of teacher candidates to design and deliver instruction in ways that are engaging and provide opportunities to think critically and solve complex problems, apply learning in authentic and real-world settings, and communicate and collaborate effectively.
  4. Preparation of teacher candidates to build meaningful and trusting relationships with their students’ families.
  5. Sustained and high-quality preservice clinical experiences and mentoring of teacher candidates by exemplary teachers.

For more information, click here.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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