U gets $1.25M to teach the deaf

The grant will help instruct teachers of deaf and partially deaf students.

Brady Averill

The University received a $1.25 million grant to instruct more people how to teach deaf or partially deaf children living in rural areas.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded the grant last week. The grant money will be paid over a five-year period and will help pay for instruction and students’ tuition.

“(The grant is) something that we have been working on for quite some time Ö because the need has been so great,” said Susan Rose, an educational psychology professor.

The grant will help fund a new program, Professional Rural Education Preparation, that provides training to teachers who are already teaching in rural areas, Rose said.

She said 20 percent of teachers in rural Minnesota areas are currently unlicensed to teach deaf children.

“They’re being served, but not necessarily by someone who is trained in their special learning need(s),” said Anna Paulson, a University education specialist.

Teachers will learn about language development, reading practices and students’ social development. They will also receive auditory training and American Sign Language instruction.

The need for licensed teachers in rural areas is greater than in metropolitan areas, Rose said. But if students don’t receive appropriate services, they fall further behind in school.

“It’s really important to have special training because if (the teachers) don’t know how to deal with language development or reading skills Ö the students miss out on so much information,” she said.

More services for deaf and partially deaf people are available near cities, Rose said.

Teachers can begin applying for the program in March, and as many as 15 teachers will be accepted.

Six rural teachers will student teach. They will be the program’s forerunners this spring, Rose said.

Next summer, teachers will take classes at the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault, Minn., taught by University instructors. Later, participants will be able to take classes at state colleges and universities.

Once the teachers interact with students in a classroom, instructors will observe teachers by teleconferencing.

For each semester of training, teachers will be required to teach deaf and partially deaf students in rural regions for one year, Rose said.