John Brown University will offer a new Master of Education degree in special education, according to a press release.
In the Siloam Springs school district 560 students are classified as having a disability.
With the increasing amount of students with disabilities, according to the Center for Disease Control, there is a rising need for teachers and workers that can provide support for this group of students.
The new program in special education will be offered online to equip teachers around the nation to fill the vital role as advocates for those with special needs.
Connie Matchell, program director for graduate teacher education, said that the master’s program will be a great addition for students with their education licenses.
“It came about because there is a high need for special education teachers across the nation. It’s an area where sometimes teachers get burned out,” Matchell said. “Districts are clamoring for special education teachers.”
Taylor Genser, sophomore elementary education major, has a heart for working with students with special needs. Genser is interested in participating the master’s program through JBU after graduation.
“I think it’ll draw more students in who have that heart for kids with special needs, and bring in people with a great and positive attitude,” Genser said.
Ability Tree, a local organization that reaches out to families impacted by disabilities, has been working to increase awareness in special education. Despite growing interest, the master’s program is only applicable to a small population of teachers on campus.
Quinn Holman, junior family and human services major, has been working with Ability Tree for almost two years now.
Holman is excited that JBU is introducing the new program, but wishes that the Master’s in Special Education was available to every major.
“It would be a good opportunity to expand the program for other people who would want to do that, but don’t necessary want to be a teacher. I wouldn’t want to go into a school and teach, but I would want that accreditation,” Holman said.
Holman is interested in introducing a class at Ability Tree that would educate on disabilities. The classes would be headed up by Holman and Joe Butler, founder and CEO of Ability Tree, to raise awareness and help the community understand people with disabilities.
A more inclusive Master’s program would allow students like Holman to get accreditation and experience on special education outside of a school setting.
Although there is room for expansion, students recognize that this new aster’s program is a huge milestone for JBU.
“This is an important step for JBU to take in helping a diverse community that does not get a lot of attention,” Holman said. “Attention is being raised for people with disabilities who are often on the backburner.”