WKU awarded $1.1M federal grant for special education


The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education has awarded Western Kentucky University a $1.1 million grant to address the ongoing national, state and regional shortage of personnel certified to serve K-12 students with high-intensity needs.

Project Preparing Rural Educators and Professionals for Students with High-Intensity Needs (PREP) is an interdisciplinary initiative led by Christina Noel of WKU’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences. The collaboration includes the College of Health and Human Services and will combine graduate coursework and field experiences to prepare special education teachers and speech language pathologists to serve students with moderate and severe disabilities.

Grant funding will support recruitment, tuition scholarships and graduation of 30 students in the special education and speech language pathology programs at WKU. Graduates will be licensed to work with K-12 students with moderate and severe disabilities.

The five-semester program was developed to remove barriers associated with working in rural communities. Benefits include tuition support, supervised field experiences and connection to professional networks. Project PREP’s curriculum will provide flexible coursework, seminars, field work and the opportunity for scholars to attend professional conferences. Once completed, scholars will graduate with a master of education degree in moderate severe disabilities or a master of arts degree in speech language pathology.

Project PREP is now accepting students for its first cohort set to begin in the 2020 fall semester. Those interested in the program can apply to the WKU Graduate School and should be prepared to submit a statement describing why they are interested in aiding rural communities.

The entry deadline is March 1. Email ProjectPREP@wku.edu for more information.