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$1.25M grant raises the bar for early childhood education in Arizona

August 13, 2013

Arizona State University is enhancing teacher preparation for future educators of young children with the aid of a $1.25 million grant from the United States Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs.

Funding will be awarded in increments of $250,000 per year, for five years, to support the project, “Preparing Early Childhood Special Educators for Arizona,” led by researchers from ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College in collaboration with educators from high-need partner school districts throughout the state.

The project’s specific focus is to elevate the quality of teacher preparation and professional development opportunities for undergraduate juniors and seniors in the college’s early childhood and early childhood special education program.

“We are committed to the education of high quality teachers of young children, and in particular, teachers that serve children from high-need communities and those who are culturally and linguistically diverse,” said Wendy Oakes, an assistant professor in the Teachers College and principal investigator of the project.

“The grant provides professional development experiences beyond the already rigorous early childhood and early childhood special education program.”

Participating students will receive increased mentoring and participation in professional experiences, along with the program’s more than 1,200 hours of clinical experience serving young children from birth through age eight. The grant also will provide stipends to support students during their internships and senior-year residencies.

“As professionals in the field, these teachers will work to provide high quality learning experiences for young children and raise the status of teaching in the state of Arizona,” Oakes said.

Oakes and her co-principal investigators, Jeanne Wilcox and Margarita Jimenez-Silva, also from the Teachers College, plan to officially launch the project in the fall 2013 semester. Wilcox is the college’s associate dean of research and Nadine Mathis Basha Professor of Early Childhood, and Jimenez-Silva is an associate professor of education.