(Wisconsin) The Cambria-Friesland School District is among those that will soon be getting some assistance thanks to a $2.5 million U.S. Department of Education Teacher Quality Partnership Grant. The grant awarded to UW Madison’s Kimber Wilkerson and Melinda Leko, will allow for the funding of 40 graduate students who will work with students with disabilities in high-need and small, rural school districts across Wisconsin.
In addition to Cambria-Friesland, the project will partner with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the Wisconsin school districts of: Beloit, Juda, Wonewoc-Union Center, Royall, Seneca Area, Adams-Frienship area, and Wauzeka-Steuben. Teachers will work with 24 high-need schools within these districts.
Kimber Wilkerson is a professor with the School of Education’s Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education (RPSE) and the faculty director of the school’s new Teacher Education Center. Melinda Leko is an associate professor and the department chair of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education. Wilkerson says, “Special educators are sorely needed across Wisconsin. With the need particularly acute in small, rural districts and in schools that serve a high number of families and children who are economically disadvantaged,” She says they are excited to work with new school district partners and look forward to preparing and supporting special educators in this innovative residency model.
The project is designed to promote improved academic achievement and engagement of Wisconsin students with disabilities by recruiting and preparing special education teacher residents through a 14-month master’s degree program. Each graduate student will take part in a 10-month teaching residency in a high-need partner school, gaining knowledge and skills to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Upon completion, participants will be eligible for a master’s degree in special education and Wisconsin licensure as a special education teacher.