8/24/17 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University’s Department of Teacher Education in the Schar College of Education has received a $216,093 curriculum development grant from the Ohio Deans Compact on Exceptional Children that will allow the department to create dual licensure programs between early childhood and middle grades education and K-12 intervention specialists.
“This grant provides resources to maximize the impact Ashland's Dwight Schar College of Education can have on future generations of children,” said Dr. Donna Breault, dean of the Schar College of Education. “It showcases the expertise of our amazing faculty and district partners. Further, it helps reinforce the promise we make to provide transformative experiences for our students so they are prepared to transform the lives of others.”
Dr. Jason Brent Ellis, principal investigator for the grant, said “The grant aims to enhance the Dwight Schar College of Education’s undergraduate education experience at Ashland University by providing teacher candidates with the opportunity to major in a dual licensure program in Early Childhood/K-12 Intervention Specialist or Middle Grades/ K- 12 Intervention Specialist in four years.”
Ellis said the outcome of this proposal will be a curriculum embedded in the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and the sensory integration needs of students. “The Ashland University teacher preparation program will produce teachers who are prepared to embrace the diverse needs of their students in PK-12 classrooms,” he said.
“The new program will be in place for incoming freshmen for fall 2018 and the grant funding runs for two years, totaling $216,093.91,” Ellis added.
The primary grant writers for the project, which is titled “Student Success for ALL through Dual Licensure: The Ashland University One Program Solution,” were AU Professors of Teacher Education Dr. Jason Brent Ellis and Dr. Carla Abreu Ellis; Dr. Maria Sargent, professor of teacher education at AU; and Dr. James Chapple, faculty mentor and field office coordinator at AU’s Elyria Center.
Ellis said this is the second round of funding in Ohio, and after this year there could be 12 universities in Ohio with competitive programs of this nature.
“What other universities have done in the first round of funding was to collapse their Early Childhood programs into dual licensure with their K-12 Mild to Moderate disability programs,” Ellis said. “We’ve taken this much further -- our program proposes two licensure paths for PreK-8.
“So, in essence if a student comes to us for an Early Childhood Education PreK-3 License, they will also get the K-12 IS dual licensure in Mild-Moderate and Moderate to Intensive. That is three licenses for the price of one, resulting in upward mobility in the job market and better preparation to serve all students independent of ability,” he said. “We also will roll in the PreK-3 Intervention Specialist licensure. That is four licenses for the price of one in a four-year traditional undergraduate degree with no summer coursework. At the 4-9th grade Middle Grades licensure, our students will continue to be able to pick two content areas in which to teach but will also graduate with K-12 Intervention Specialist (Mild to Moderate, Moderate to Intensive) dual licensure.”
The proposal calls for the Department of Teacher Education at Ashland to engage in intensive professional development with our companion teacher educators at Lorain County Community College (LCCC) on constructs of Universal Design and Learning (UDL).
“Funding will provide sensory room installations (calming and active) in the Dwight Schar College of Education and at Ashland University's Elyria campus as well as a UDL/Assistive Technology Lab at each location,” Ellis said. “This will be a testament to our continuing presence at LCCC, be focal threads in our curriculum redesign to ameliorate our focus on sensory processing disorders and inclusion. We will model the contemporary practices in all that we do in the classroom.”
Ellis explained that the grant calls for minimizing faculty release time in trade for maximizing resources in the form of professional development, labs and sensory rooms between the Ashland and Elyria campuses in order to maximize student impact. “The Department of Teacher Education at AU works from the premise that we should not take for ourselves when we can give to our students,” he said.
Abreu-Ellis said the grant provides funding for monthly meetings with the school districts who employ AU students, take AU interns or send undergraduates to the schools. “This will provide us with valuable input into their contemporary wants and needs, their current initiatives and strategic plans. As we move forward with re-envisioning field components, this input ultimately will inform us on best practices on scheduling and outcomes,” Abreu-Ellis said.
Both Mansfield City Schools and Ashland City Schools wrote support letters for this proposal. Mansfield City Schools Supt. Brian Garverick said, “We feel that the grant proposal that addresses dual-licensure in Early Childhood/K-12 Intervention Specialist (mild to intensive) and Middle Grades/K-12 Intervention Specialist (mild to intensive) is an example of how the administration of Ashland University has recognized the needs of the districts they partner with. We look forward to sharing in the dialog and assisting them in any way that will help as they prepare for these new fields.”
Abreu-Ellis said that students, in collaboration with AU’s corporate partner Raindrop Products LLC, will design and fabricate some of the contents of the Sensory rooms. “This provides those who will seek the opportunity to work directly with Raindrop and apply their knowledge to an entirely different field. It does not get more problem-based than that,” she said.
Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2017, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###