UNCG Campus Weekly

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Dr. Diane Ryndak

photo of RyndakDr. Diane Ryndak (Specialized Education Services) received new funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) for the project “Project LEAPS: Leadership in Extensive and Pervasive Support Needs.”  

The Doctoral Program in Special Education at UNCG has a history of (a) graduating scholars who procure and maintain employment in teacher preparation programs nationally, and (b) conducting OSEP projects to prepare high-quality leaders. LEAPS builds on this history by collaborating with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, low-performing schools in North Carolina, self-advocates and parents of students with disabilities, and national experts to prepare leaders in research and the preparation of teachers to meet the needs of high-need students with disabilities who are far below grade level; at risk of not graduating with a regular high school diploma on time; or not on track to being college- or career-ready by graduation.

Specifically, LEAPS will focus on competencies for conducting research and preparing teachers to work with students historically labeled as having significant intellectual disabilities, autism, severe, or multiple disabilities, areas in which there has been a chronic critical shortage of qualified teachers nationally and in North Carolina.

LEAPS will extend UNCG’s existing doctoral program’s competencies for research, preservice teacher preparation, and service, and add competencies for evidence-based practices (EBP) to meet the needs of high-needs students with EPSN in low-performing schools. Scholars will learn competencies in inclusive practices, secondary and post-secondary education and transition, EBP and individualized supports (including assistive technology), advocacy, and academic and behavioral Multi-Tiered Systems of Support. This will be accomplished using technology during courses, when teaching, and in collaboration with schools, national experts, and other scholars nationally within the context of the existing doctoral program, additional one-hour seminars related to students with EPSN, authentic experiences with low-performing schools, and the use of resources and expertise of National Technical Assistance Projects. The intent is to improve outcomes for these students and their schools.