Dean’s grant supports a study in academic coaching of TCIO students

The art of the possible: Developing new teachers’ pedagogies of possibility for inclusion through think college academic coaching

Can K–12 students in special education programs aspire to go to college? Will their teachers have the skills to support them to do so?

The Dean’s Fund for Excellence has awarded Assistant Professor Molly Siuty a grant to explore academic coaching in the Think College Inclusion Oregon (TCIO), PSU’s groundbreaking program that offers a four-year University experience to 18–21-year-olds with intellectual disabilities (ID).

Siuty is the cohort leader of the Secondary Dual Educator Program (SDEP), a program unique to PSU that offers a dual teaching license in special education and another subject area, with a focus on inclusion. PSU students in SDEP are also coaches in the TCIO program.

TCIO offers students with modified high school diplomas the opportunity to attend college on PSU campus with their peers. It is the only program for students with intellectual disabilities in Oregon and will enroll 35 students over the five-year term of the TCIO grant. Continue reading

PSU Infant/Toddler Mental Health program nets $110,000 for scholarships

The Ford Family Foundation has awarded PSU funding for 10 students in the Infant/Toddler Mental Health (ITMH) Graduate Certificate program. This grant will support recipients in rural Oregon who are working with families who have children ages 0–36 months and will increase capacity in infant mental health throughout Oregon.

Ford Family Foundation Program Officer Robin Hill-Dunbar said, “Providing access to coursework related to infant mental health in rural Oregon is critical. It is a pleasure to support students in the pursuit of the PSU graduate certificate and the Infant/Toddler Mental Health Endorsement. Our youngest ones and their caregivers are counting on those who serve them to understand and be able to best support their complex and unique needs.”

The project is led by Professor Ingrid Anderson, who has over 25 years of experience administering early childhood programs locally and regionally. Faculty who teach in the program are practitioners in social work, migrant head start, early learning hubs, parent education, and research. Continue reading

Special Education undergraduate program approved by TSPC

A new undergraduate degree in special education has cleared the first step in the approval process for a future release in the GSE. The Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) gave consent at their quarterly meeting in Salem on November 2, 2017.

“Adding the undergraduate licensure option directly addresses Oregon and Southwest Washington’s need for more special educators by creating a more affordable and accessible program,” said Special Education Department Chair Randall De Pry, who, with his team, has been working on this program since October 2016. “This will significantly reduce the cost of licensure for students and more directly address the critical shortage of these teachers across our state and region.”

There are multiple steps for approval before the program is a reality, but the Special Education team who have been working on this hope to have a new program in place by fall 2018.

PSU project in the Republic of Georgia aids persons with disabilities

Hollie Hix-Small (left) with employees of the Free-Space Café—a social enterprise designed to raise awareness and support the needs of persons with disabilities in the Republic of Georgia.

Hollie Hix-Small (left) with employees of the Free-Space Café—a social enterprise designed to raise awareness and support the needs of persons with disabilities in the Republic of Georgia.

Hollie Hix-Small, an early intervention specialist in the Special Education Department, is partnering with several organizations in the Republic of Georgia. Since 2011, she has worked with Open Society Foundations to build early intervention (EI) services for children with developmental delays and disabilities. Hix-Small has hosted Georgian EI specialists interested in learning about EI practices in the United States. Together with local service district partners, Hix-Small introduced them to services in Portland. They are part of an emerging effort in Georgia to transform the lives of individuals with disabilities.

“Eastern Europe and Central Asia have the highest rates of institutionalized children in the world,” said Hix-Small in a recent article she authored in the Open Society Foundations newsletter. “For many, placement in an institution begins at birth.” Continue reading

GSE students find help for children disabled by Zika virus

Go Baby Go toddler Students in Professor Sam Sennott’s Introduction to Special Education class at PSU have found a way to help children in Brazil who have birth defects caused by the Zika virus. The students have set up a fundraiser called Go Baby Go Brazil that will provide specially modified toy cars to very young children who have mobility issues. In Sennott’s class, students study about microcephaly and other conditions, like spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome that delay development and prevent mobility. The students volunteered to build Go Baby Go cars and focused on raising money to provide cars for Brazil as a class project.

Go Baby Go build June 2016Go Baby Go is an emerging movement that began at the University of Delaware and is spreading across the country. The students participated in a local Go Baby Go build event in June. Volunteers at the event are trained to modify the toy cars that are individually customized to fit children as young as six months old. The June build event was directed by Portland physical therapist Bethany Sloane, along with the coordinator of Go Baby Go Oregon, Sam Logan. Eight cars were assembled at that event, and Sloane hopes to have a build event each month as money becomes available. Continue reading

PSU nets $1.2 million grant for orientation and mobility training

COMETThe US Department of Education awarded the PSU Graduate School of Education a $1,247,470 grant to develop a new certificate program to train orientation and mobility (O&M) specialists. This program will be linked to the existing PSU Visually Impaired Learner (VIL) program.

Over the next five years, Project COMET, Certified Orientation and Mobility Educators in Training, will prepare 38 fully trained and highly qualified O&M specialists to help individuals who are blind or visually impaired to develop the skills necessary for independent and safe travel within their homes, workplaces, and communities. Continue reading