MEd SPED graduates

Associate Professor Sara Cook was awarded $1,084,889 by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Funding will support Promoting and Retaining Effective, Professional, and Responsive Educators in Hawai‘i (PreparED HI) under the leadership of Cook and Kavita Rao, co-project director and Director of the COE Research Institute (CERI).

Sara Cook
Sara Cook

Over the next five years, PreparED HI will fund 30 scholars, representing the diversity of Hawaiʻi, to earn master’s degrees in special education and prepare them as teacher leaders to support students with disabilities throughout the state.

“We are excited to have an opportunity to provide funding for outstanding special educators who seek to earn a master’s degree,” Cook said. “This funding allows our department to further develop our MEd in Special Education Leadership and Research Track through which we hope to support not only the development but also the retention of special education teacher leaders in Hawaiʻi.”

PrepareED HI cohorts will earn an MEd in Special Education with a focus on leadership and research. Scholars will develop expertise in three key areas – foundations of special education, evidence-based practices, and leadership and collaboration. They will also gain knowledge in culturally relevant and assets-based pedagogies to effectively serve students receiving special education services in Hawaiʻi’s diverse classrooms.

In collaboration with colleagues from the Hawai`i Department of Education, PrepareED HI will provide opportunities for participants to develop their ability to mentor new teachers, collaborate with stakeholders to advocate for students, and provide professional development on special education policy and practices in their schools and community.

“Our ultimate goal is to support the professional development and continued education of high-quality teachers to support the retention of culturally diverse special education teachers in our state,” Cook concluded.

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) provides leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts with improving results for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. The OSEP Personnel Preparation program helps meet state-identified needs for adequate numbers of fully certified, qualified personnel to serve children with disabilities.

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