news releases

2006.02.22 > For Immediate Release
contact: Tim Kaldahl - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.3502 - email: tkaldahl@mail.unomaha.edu

New Program at UNO Targets Special Education Needs in Area

Omaha - A new program offered by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) will address a tremendous local, state and national need for special education teachers beginning this spring.  The Certification Alternative Reaching Exceptional Students (CARES) program is an intense, 18-month program for non-teachers who already hold bachelor's degrees in content areas such as English, mathematics, science and social sciences.

"Our Teacher Academy Project (TAP) gave us an excellent model to work from," said John Langan, dean of the UNO College of Education (COE).  "We're looking for professionals who not only want a change in their own careers, but are looking to make a difference in the lives of special education students and their families."

Currently, there is a critical need for special education teachers in the metropolitan area. TAP, created six years ago, was UNO's first alternative certification program that sought out professionals looking to become secondary education teachers in high demand subject areas.  CARES is a next step, Langan said.

"Special educators are always in high demand," he said.  "We created CARES with the input of the Metropolitan Omaha Education Consortium (MOEC).  The area school districts are very excited by this."

The MOEC school districts are: Bellevue Public Schools, Council Bluffs Community Schools, Millard Public Schools, Omaha Public Schools, Papillion/LaVista Public Schools, Ralston Public Schools and Westside Community Schools.

The 48-credit hour program is entirely at the graduate level and integrates class work, job training and mentoring with teachers in the field.  Once accepted into the program, a CARES candidate completes their coursework while interning at a participating MOEC school district.  The expectation is that many of those internships will lead to full time positions upon graduation.  At graduation, the candidate is eligible for a regular Nebraska teaching certificate with endorsements in secondary special education and a content area reflected in their undergraduate degree.

"They also will be entering the teaching salary schedule at a master's level," Langan said.  The program provides a win, win, win scenario.  School districts have a larger pool of qualified special educators.  The program candidates participate in a sequence of courses and experiences related directly to their needs and the 7-12 students and parents get teachers with the skills to meet their needs.

The CARES program will address a critical need in this area and provide adults with an innovative transition into the teaching profession

For more information, call (402) 554-3355 or go to coe.unomaha.edu/CARES.

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