Project Equal Access

Linda Oshita, Jenny Wells, and Janet Kim standing in front of greenery and a statue on the cover of Hawaii News Now article, titled UH gets big grant aimed at bolstering diversity SPED teacher ranks.

To increase and retain more well-prepared bilingual/multilingual teachers of color, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education (COE) Department of Special Education (SPED) was awarded a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program.

Project Equal Access, under the direction of SPED Professor and Chair Jenny Wells, aims to create a more diverse teacher workforce to serve students of color in rural and remote communities.

“We are deeply honored to be acknowledged as a Center of Teaching Excellence by the USDOE,” Wells said. “This award will enable us to enhance our teacher preparation programs and increase our ability to prepare and support diverse special educators. We are committed to the goals of the Hawkins programs and are eager to begin this work in conjunction with our COE and Hawaiʻi Department of Education partners.”

The four-year project, which will supplement the existing rigorous COE special education teacher training programs, is co-directed by Associate Specialist Linda Oshita and Assistant Specialist Janet Kim. The focus is on the various aspects of the teacher preparation pipeline, including the recruitment, preparation, support, placement and retention of teachers in high-need areas to support underserved students.

“Our diverse student population mirrors the multicultural profile of the state with 76% of teacher candidates being students of color,” Wells added. “Project Equal Access will address the disproportionately underrepresented Native Hawaiian, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander special educators within the teacher workforce.”

Update: Congratulations to Dr. Jenny Wells, who celebrated her retirement in July 2023! Project Equal Access is now led by Dr. Janet Kim and supported by Dr. Linda Oshita and Project Coordinator, Derek Govin.

Link to College of Education News Article

Link to UH News Article

Project Objectives

About the Project

Goals for this Grant

  • Increase the number of bilingual/multilingual students pursuing a State Approved Teacher Education Program (SATEP) in special education
  • Increase the number of bilingual/multilingual teacher graduates placed in hard-to-staff schools serving students of color
  • Provide and support trained cooperating teacher mentors to support diverse candidates and students
  • Identify inequities and provide support towards increasing recruitment, enrollment, and program completion
  • Increase relevant pedagogy (i.e., culturally relevant, diverse learners, multiligual learners) within/across curriculum
  • Maximize dissemination of project findings/resources through conference presentations and project website