Mentoring Unique Special Educators (MUSE)

MUSE logo


About MUSE

MUSE provides individualized instructional mentoring to unlicensed Hawai‘i special education teachers enrolled in a special education teacher preparation program at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. MUSE mentors have a unique opportunity to share their wealth of knowledge and experience by supporting beginning special education classroom teachers, promoting student achievement and the teaching profession, and positively impacting teacher retention rates in Hawai‘i. Founded in 2003 as a partnership among the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the Hawai‘i State Department of Education, and the New Teacher Center  at the University of California Santa Cruz, the MUSE program is a vital component of the teacher preparation programs offered through the Department of Special Education.

Mentor Roles and Responsibilities

The primary roles of the MUSE mentor are:

  1. To build a trusting relationship with each teacher candidate.
  2. To provide individualized instructional mentoring, and non-evaluative feedback and support to teacher candidates.
  3. To encourage teacher candidates to engage in professional growth through: (a) collaboration, (b) networking with others in the educational community, and (c) sharing of strategies and resources.
  4. To engage in professional reflection on effective teaching practices and challenges, and plan for next steps.
  5. To provide both instructional and emotional support, with emphasis on evidence-based best practices.


To be eligible to receive a MUSE mentor, candidates must be:

  1. Enrolled in a UH Mānoa Special Education Teacher Preparation Program
  2. Employed as a Hawaii DOE PreK-12 emergency-hire special education teacher

Hear about Leina‘ala Kealoha’s experience with the MUSE mentoring program:

Meet our MUSE mentors

MUSE mentors are a team of highly skilled, veteran special education teacher who have a broad range of classroom and teaching experience. All mentors possess a Master’s Degree and have: (a) extensive teaching experience in Hawai‘i public schools, (b) taught in a variety of placement settings, and (c) worked with students who have a broad range of disabilities. Mentors are well trained in successfully implementing an induction program that supports beginning teacher development, teacher retention, and improved student learning.

Our mentors also provide additional support to graduates who get hired into a SPED position in their first two years upon completion of their program through a partner College of Education program called SONG (Supporting Our New Graduates). Once identified as being hired in a SPED position, MUSE mentors provide support as requested, as another way to assure success of our University trained teacher preparation candidates.

Our MUSE Mentees, SY 18-19

An anonymous MUSE Program Survey is distributed each year to all candidates receiving MUSE mentoring supports.  The following data represents the 26/48 teacher candidates who responded to the 2018-2019 survey.

Program Chosen Data
Candidate Licensure Level Data
MUSE Effectiveness Data

Out of the 26 respondents, 27% were enrolled in the MEdT Dual Secondary & Special Education program, 19% were enrolled in the PBSPED Severe/Autism program, and 54% were enrolled in the PBSPED Mild/Moderate program.

Out of the 26 respondents, 19% were hired in preschool, 27% in elementary, 31% in middle/intermediate, and 23% in high school settings.

Given a likert scale and the statement “Overall, the MUSE program has been very effective for me”, 73% of respondents chose “Strongly Agree”, 23% chose “Agree”, and 4% chose “Neutral”. No candidates chose “Disagree or Strongly Disagree”.

Alumni Feedback

An anonymous survey was distributed to all 2016 and 2017 graduates of the Post baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education to analyze which program supports they found most valuable.

Although alumni had found almost all supports valuable, one of the most significant findings of this study was the overwhelming support for the MUSE mentoring program. When asked to rank order all nine types of identified programmatic supports, a majority of alumni listed MUSE as their #1 valued support.

Anonymous feedback regarding the value of MUSE support include:

“The mentor was an impartial person who neither judged nor evaluated me. Truly supportive and accessible. I saw my mentor in person and more frequently than other people in the program.”

“They [MUSE mentors] were the closest connection bridging what was being presented in theory and the reality of working in the DOE.”

“Having a MUSE Mentor come & see you when your are an emergency hire is the ONLY thing that kept me alive & afloat! Her support at anytime of day or night, the positive feedback & reinforcement that I was doing the right things meant a LOT!”