Indiana’s new program seeks to recruit more special education teachers


INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Education has partnered with Indianapolis University to try to recruit more special education teachers.

Education officials across Indiana say the state has faced a shortage of specialist teachers for some time.

“This is a very real crisis, I would say,” said Laura Hammack, superintendent of Beech Grove City Schools.

Prior to becoming superintendent, Hammack taught special education for several years.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s incredibly rewarding,” she said of the experience.

Now that she runs the schools in Beech Grove City, one of the challenges she faces is finding special education teachers.

“We’ve had a number of positions that haven’t been filled, or we’ve had to innovate in licensing so that we can fill some of the special education positions we’ve had,” said Hammack.

A new state program seeks a permanent solution by recruiting more teachers to better serve all individual education plans (IEPs) students.

“There are, at last count, around 185,000 active IEPs in the state, and there are something like 250 special education positions vacant,” said Carey Dahncke, executive director of the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning. (CELL) of the University of Indianapolis.

The new program allows teachers to earn certification in special education by completing a free online graduate program through UIndy, Taylor University or Indiana Wesleyan University, a. -he declares.

“We hope that we will eventually recruit 300 new teachers in the field,” said Dahncke.

The $ 2 million program is federally funded, in part by COVID relief programs, according to Holly Lawson, deputy director of communications for the Indiana Department of Education.

“This program aims to provide a convenient and accessible option for our special education teachers and to make it truly affordable,” she said.

The program also offers scholarships to Hoosiers already pursuing careers in special education, Lawson said. And it provides financial assistance for bachelor’s degree holders who wish to make the transition to education from another career, she added.

Hammack said she hopes this is a path that many teachers will consider.

“It’s an absolute joy, and the students are giving you so much more than we can ever give them back,” she said.

For more information on the program and how to register, click on here.

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