UT partners with community colleges to enhance early childhood education curriculum

January 20, 2012 | News, UToday
By Roxanne Ring

The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services has awarded a Partner Project grant to early childhood special education faculty at The University of Toledo.

UT faculty and colleagues at three Ohio community colleges will work together on the Partner Project to enhance the quality of early childhood education curriculum offered at the community colleges so early childhood teachers with associate degrees are better prepared to meet the needs of young (age birth to 6 years) children with disabilities and their families.

The grant is for $600,000 over four years (January 2012 to December 2015) and is a competitive award based on peer review and ranking of a national pool of applications.

UT faculty Dr. Laurie Dinnebeil and Dr. William McInerney and project manager Dr. Lyn Hale will partner with early childhood education peers at Terra Community College in Fremont, Cuyahoga Community College (three campus locations) in Cleveland and Stark State Technical College in North Canton. The grant will support an early childhood education faculty liaison from each of the partner community colleges. Camille Catlett of the Frank Porter Graham Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill also will participate in a consultation role.

“There is a shortage of skilled and highly qualified early childhood teachers who can effectively support the development and well-being of young children, particularly those between the ages of birth to 6 years,” Dinnebeil said. “All young children need well-trained early childhood teachers, but perhaps young children with disabilities need them most of all. It is our hope that the Partner Project will further support early care education teachers in working effectively with each and every young child in Ohio.”

UT faculty will provide intensive professional development opportunities for faculty members at the three participating community colleges related to their effective mentoring of cooperating teachers who will work with early childhood students in inclusive practicum settings. Additionally, Partner Project personnel will work to increase the number of and quality of inclusive early childhood practicum settings and to complement the quality of the practicum experiences of the associate degree early childhood students.

UT faculty will visit early childhood education community college faculty on their campuses as well as offer monthly webinars. The faculty members also will present a one-day workshop at the annual Ohio Early Care and Education Conference, which is held every spring in Columbus.

An advisory board comprised of statewide experts, parents of children with disabilities, graduates of two-year community college early childhood programs, representatives from state agencies and early childhood education teachers will support and counsel project personnel.

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