New program addresses special education teacher shortage

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OKLAHOMA CITY -While there has been a major push to get better teachers in our schools, one area of education is severely lacking.
Officials say there is a major shortage of special education teachers in the State of Oklahoma.
Traditionally, special education teachers need to have an education-related degree to become certified to teach students with special needs.
However, a new program offered by the state is making it more convenient for people to become special education teachers.
Amy Yousey said, “He’s like a big teddy bear.”
Yousey’s younger brother is also big inspiration to her.
She has helped her parents with her brother, who is autistic, for years but did not feel her true calling until one night at a high school prom.
She and her husband, who worked at Moore Public Schools, served as chaperones that night and sat with the special education students.
Yousey said, “I just got this warm feeling in my heart and felt God tugging me and saying, ‘This is where I want you to be.”
The young mother immediately contacted the State Department of Education.
The accountant of 13 years was on her way to completely changing her career through a new program offered by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
Tricia Hansen, with the Department of Education, said, “What we are doing here is creating a bootcamp program, a preparation program. It’s 120 hours of classroom instruction to help prepare special education teachers on the laws and responsibilities of being a special educator. Then there’s an additional 30 hours of field experience.”
The program is in response to Oklahoma’s severe shortage of special education teachers and is a non-traditional route to certification, as part of House Bill 1233.
“There’s going to be a pretty big cut in pay but I feel that it’s going to have so many other rewards that money really is not an issue,” Yousey said. “We’ll just have to cut back on a few things.”
It is a small sacrifice for a much bigger picture that has been in the making for years.
“I don’t think words can describe what it means to me,” Yousey said. “I’m just blessed to have this opportunity.”
The program is like an internship for people who already have a four-year bachelor’s degree.
If you’d like more information, contact the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

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