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$1.6M to train Native Hawaiian SPED teachers

.6M to train Native Hawaiian SPED teachers

HONOLULU (KHON2) – The US Department of Education’s Augustus F. The Hawkins Center of Excellence Program has awarded a $1.6 million grant to the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Education to help train Hawaii’s bilingual/multilingual teachers of color.

The program, known as Project Equal Access, is run by SPED Professor and Chair Jenny Wells. Its intent is to create a more diverse teacher workforce that will serve students of color in rural and remote communities.

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In Hawaii, the program is targeting Native Hawaiian, Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander students who wish to develop and pursue special education.

“We are extremely honored to be recognized as a Center of Teaching Excellence by USDOE. This award will enable us to enhance our teacher preparation programs and enhance our ability to prepare and support diverse special educators,” Wells said.

“We remain committed to the goals of the Hawkins programs and look forward to beginning this work together with our CoE and partners in the Hawaii Department of Education,” Wells explained.

The four-year project will complement the existing CoE special education teacher training programs that UH offers. It is co-directed by Assistant Specialist Linda Oshita and Assistant Specialist Janet Kim.

The focus of this special grant will be to help recruit, prepare, support, hire and retain teachers in high need areas who can support underserved students.

“Our diverse student population reflects the multicultural profile of the state, with 76 percent of teacher candidates being students of color,” Wells said. “Project Equal Access will address the disproportionately underrepresented Native Hawaiian, Asian American, and Native American Pacific Islander special educators within the teacher workforce.”

According to the College of Education, the grant “will address five areas: reduction of disparities and inadequacies in resources and opportunities in teaching licensure programs; enhancement of the effective use of technology, instructional techniques and strategies.

It also means “preparing teacher candidates to design and deliver instruction in ways that are engaging and provide opportunities to think critically and solve complex problems, in authentic and real-world settings.” apply learnings, and communicate and collaborate effectively.”

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And it will “help teacher candidates build meaningful and trusting relationships with their students’ families and provide teacher candidates with consistent and high-quality pre-clinical experience and mentoring by exemplary teachers.”

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