ESEE Program Coordinator/ Cohort Kauluokalā Coordinator/ Instructor/ Field Supervisor

Cindy Farley

"With the current levels of attrition in the field of special education, it is important to prepare teachers so that they will not just survive, but thrive during their initial years in the field."


Kailua, O‘ahu


Special Education; School of Teacher Education - Elementary

Related Degrees

  • BEd, Exceptional Students & Elementary Education

Describe your role as the ESEE program coordinator.

I am program coordinator for the Bachelor’s of Education, ESEE (Exceptional Students Elementary Education) Program at UH Mānoa. The ESEE program is a fully integrated, dual prep program. The graduates are co-taught in all their classes, which contain both elementary and special education content, merged into each class. Itʻs a fantastic program! I work with the instructors regarding course content, facilitate meetings, coordinate and conduct trainings, and provide them with program information for continuity across cohorts. I work with partnership schools to provide information about the program and secure mentors for field settings. I also work with principals as they strive to hire the best quality graduates for their schools. I work with my partnering cohort coordinator to support Cohort Kauluokalā as they progress through the ESEE program. I supervise teacher candidates in field settings, mentoring and guiding them through the process of going from student to teacher. I also teach co-courses within the ESEE program, specifically Introduction to Inclusive Teaching.

What is your philosophy of teaching?

With the current levels of attrition in the field of special education, it is important to prepare teachers so that they will not just survive, but thrive during their initial years in the field. I facilitate, rather than teach. Every child can learn, but learning can be difficult for too many. It is up to us to help them discover the passion, the fire that sustains them and keeps them engaged when the learning process becomes difficult.

What types of candidates do you hope/recommend to pursue the BEd ESEE program?

Anyone who wants to teach in the elementary school setting. This program will prepare those who want to pursue teaching high incidence disabilities (special education) as a resource or inclusion teacher OR those wanting to teach elementary students as a general educator. Graduates of the ESEE Program will be ready to take on the diverse needs of todayʻs elementary classroom.

How does this program best support and prepare its students?

Teacher candidates go through the ESEE Program as a cohort. That cohort becomes their ohana, with cohort coordinators supporting, nurturing, and guiding them as they move from students to teachers. They are taught an integrated curriculum by co-teachers from the special education and elementary education departments. The field settings are designed so that their mentors are high quality and allow for countless teaching opportunities as well as opportunities to experience the school community. Moreover, their field supervisors are often their instructors, ensuring high integration between their UH coursework and their fieldwork.

What words of advice would you give to people looking to pursue the program/profession?

Get to know a childʻs full situation before passing judgement. Enter the classroom with an open mind, a large heart, and a big sense of humor, while ensuring you have a well thought out classroom management plan.

What are your research interests?

Teacher preparation, high-leverage practices, evidence-based practices, and neuroeducation

Describe your own road to higher education.

I earned my undergraduate degree and teaching license at the young age of 22. I taught at various public schools as a special educator across the nation and overseas for over 25 years before my husbandʻs military career brought us to Hawaiʻi. In that time, I earned Master’s in Special Education and a second Master’s in School Counseling. I taught primarily high incidence disabilities. I was a middle school counselor for a few years as well. I LOVED it all! I can honestly say that I never experienced burnout and realized I wanted to help prepare future teachers to love teaching as much as I do. After moving to Hawaiʻi, I earned my PhD in Exceptionalities while teaching for UH Mānoa in the Department of Special Education.

What do you like to do outside of education?

I love to do anything outdoors, including hiking, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and running. To relieve stress, I play at playing guitar. I LOVE music and have a large vinyl record collection.

I'm interested in learning more about a degree or certificate in Special Education.

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