UNT receives $1.2 million grant to train special education leaders

Tuesday, January 24, 2012
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DENTON (UNT), Texas -- The University of North Texas has received a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to train and educate future leaders of special education programs.

The program, named Project TELL – Training Effective Leaders for High-Needs Schools through Local Partnerships, will offer a doctoral program in special education within the Department of Educational Psychology in UNT's College of Education.

Project TELL uniquely combines leadership and management training with traditional doctoral work in special education, giving scholars enrolled in the program a combination of public school administration and special education systems-change experience to prepare the scholars for success in leadership positions. 

Three area school districts, Birdville ISD, DeSoto ISD and Lewisville ISD, will partner with UNT for the project. Scholars enrolled in the program will work with the school districts to assess areas for improvement and to implement changes that will strengthen special education programs leading to better outcomes for students.

"Doctoral students enrolled in Project TELL will be required to develop interventions to address challenges facing participating school districts and implement those interventions, in conjunction with traditional doctoral degree requirements," said Bertina Combes, associate professor in UNT's College of Education and program director. "This will not only help the school districts involved, but will give students real leadership experience  requiring them to make systemic changes to improve the education of students with disabilities."

Associate Professor Smita Mehta and Assistant Professor Endia Lindo, both from the College of Education, will work with Combes on the project. Twelve scholars will receive full scholarship funding and stipends through the grant, and will begin the program as a group in Summer 2012.

"As a Birdville ISD special education administrator, I am very excited that our district was chosen to participate in Project TELL," said Betty Grubbs, director of special services for Birdville ISD. "This program is a win-win situation for both the district and for the individuals selected to study under the program. The district wins in that we know that our participants will be learning information that can help the district better serve students in special education. And, the individuals selected will be winners as they have the opportunity to gain significant knowledge and a doctoral degree. This is a wonderful way to attract and train future leaders in special education."

College of Education Dean Jerry Thomas believes the program will have a long-lasting positive impact on both UNT and the school districts involved.

"We are always excited about working with local public schools," Thomas said. "The long-term values will be more relevant and valuable preparation of doctoral students well beyond the period of the grant. The faculty team involved are excellent leaders who prepare fine Ph.D. students."

See www.coe.unt.edu/project-tell for more information about Project TELL.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108