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Continued: Metro school districts try 'grow their own' approach to hiring special education teachers

  • Article by: KIM MCGUIRE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 5, 2014 - 2:48 PM

The program, which was approved by the state Board of Teaching on April 11, will require participants to complete 36 credit hours, attend weekly seminars and work with a university instructor embedded in the school classrooms where they already work, offering instruction and coaching.

Upon completion, not only will the newly minted teachers have their master’s degree in special education, they will be licensed to work with students who have emotional and behavioral disorders. Districts with employees planning on participating in the program include 916, Intermediate District 917, Minneapolis, Mounds View and North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale.

McComas described the program as intensive, but concedes it is likely to offer a quicker path toward becoming an EBD teacher than a more traditional licensure pathway.

“This, like other licensure programs, doesn’t offer a 100 percent guarantee of a teaching job, but obviously their chances are quite good.”

Tough job, joyful moment

Ovadal, who has an undergraduate degree in sociology, hopes to stay with the John Glenn Middle School Alternative Learning Program once she completes the University of Minnesota program.

She says it would be tough to leave the students who made her fall in love with teaching in the first place.

She recalls the precise moment when that occurred. It was four years ago, early in her career at John Glenn. She was working with a student who had bounced around from school to school in the metro area. He was in fifth grade and couldn’t read.

Eventually, Ovadal, says she helped him read a kindergarten-level book “with tiny words.”

“He felt like he was a tough guy, but as soon as he began reading that book, he started to smile,” she said. “He was proud of himself. I was proud of him. That was the moment when I knew I wanted to be a special education teacher.”

Kim McGuire • 612-673-4469



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  • Samantha Ovadal, an education assistant at John Glenn Alternative Program in Maplewood, is one of the people hoping to take advantage of the new program at the University of Minnesota, which she will attend in the fall to become a special education teacher.

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