More than 150 school district administrators and IHE representatives met to discuss the critical shortage of special educators in the state or North Carolina.
On Friday, Feb. 24, the Elon University School of Education held the North Carolina Recruitment and Retention of Special Educators Summit on campus. More than 150 school district administrators and IHE representatives met to discuss the critical shortage of special educators in the state or North Carolina.
Ann Bullock, dean of the School of Education, opened with a brief summary of the school’s commitment to preparing well-qualified teachers. President Leo M. Lambert provided a warm welcome which began by underscoring his family’s appreciation for those in the field of special education, and ended with a reminder to the audience that Elon has prepared teachers throughout its history.
Other speakers from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction included William (Bill) Hussey, state director of exceptional children; Paula Crawford, section chief of the Exceptional Children’s Division; Thomas Tomberlin, director of District Human Resources. Bekah Mulligan, a new special educator from Smoky Mountain High School, Jackson County School District, provided insight on both recruiting new special educators as well as provided feedback how who to keep teachers in the classroom.
Nancy Mamlin from N.C. Central University and Jennifer Diliberto from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill shared the results of their research on the topic, including that most teachers decide to become teachers before they enter high school and do so because of powerful relationships they had as children with children who had special education needs. They encouraged local school districts to support or increase their students’ opportunities to get to know students with disabilities, in formal ways (e.g., tutoring, Best Buddies) and informal ways (e.g., cross classroom experiences).
The Summit ended with several working group sessions in which local school districts along with their neighboring IHE representatives began developing plans for both recruiting more teachers in to the field of special education, and retaining those that currently have. Additional work will need to be done to ensure that our students with special education needs have well-qualified teachers in our state.