The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Education was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services to redesign the college’s elementary and special education program over the next five years.

Elementary Program Director Donna Grace, Special Education Chair Amelia Jenkins and Dean Christine Sorensen will provide leadership for the effort, dubbed Project Laulima.

The existing BEd K–6 general and special education program has functioned largely as two separate programs with teacher candidates were simultaneously enrolled. Project Laulima will support a new blended and merged elementary and special education preparation program.

“With this new program, we will be able to serve and prepare teachers for tomorrow’s classrooms,” said Grace. “It’s beyond just merging SPED and general education.”

The redesigned program will merge standards-based coursework and provide tutoring and other support services, combine and expand clinical practice with mentoring and induction and incorporate instructional approaches that address the challenges of high need children with high-incidence disabilities.

It is no longer an option to prepare teachers who aren’t trained to teach the children both with and without disabilities, said Jenkins.

Project Laulima involves the Institute for Teacher Education, elementary and early childhood programs, Department of Special Education and the Center on Disability Studies.

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