Lipscomb offers scholarships for eligible public school teachers
By: The Associated Press
The Messenger 05.30.08 Thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Education’s Division of Special Education, Lipscomb University in Nashville is offering $5,000 scholarships to eligible teachers who seek to become licensed, achieve highly-qualified status in special education and work toward a master’s degree. The scholarships are available to public school teachers statewide to enroll in Lipscomb’s unique Master of Arts in Special Education (MASE) program. MASE allows special education teachers working on alternative licensure or waivers to become fully licensed in special education: modified K-12 and to work toward a master’s degree in just 14 months by meeting about one weekend per month and in the summer. In addition, Lipscomb Univer-sity offers full-time teachers a 26 percent tuition discount, providing a total savings of more than $12,000 for qualified participants. Recipients must commit to teach for two years in a Tennessee public school after completing the licensure program. The MASE program is de-signed for working teachers, offering an accelerated format that meets on the Nashville campus about one weekend per month and for one month during the summer. Lipscomb also conducts on-site MASE instruction at field study sites in West Tennessee. The program also provides in-classroom mentoring and Praxis test preparation workshops. There are already 50 students, either currently enrolled or recently graduated, who have participated in the MASE program, which was established in 2006 by Lipscomb-LCI, an incorporated non-profit joint venture of Lipscomb and the Learning Collaborative Inc. In that year, the MASE program was awarded the initial award of $150,000 from the Tennessee Department of Education to offer 30 $5,000 scholarships to Tennessee special education teachers on alternative licenses or waivers in public schools. The most recent grant of $100,000 allows Lipscomb to offer 20 more scholarships through June 2009. MASE is designed to attract teachers to one of the most desperate high-need areas in the state’s schools: special education. According to the standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act, 100 percent of special education teachers in Tennessee must be fully certified and highly qualified in the subject matter they are teaching. However, teacher shortages across the state often force school systems to resort to hiring special education teachers with alternative licenses (those who have yet to finish all their requirements for certification) or certified teachers who do not have a special education endorsement, a practice allowed by a state waiver. In the 2006-07 school year, the state fell short of the No Child Left Behind standard with close to 98 percent of all academic courses in Tennessee taught by teachers deemed highly qualified, according to press reports in The Tennessean. “For someone who was not prepared to teach in a special education classroom, I found it encouraging that the state made this grant possible,” said Jonathan Oliver, a graduate of Lipscomb’s MASE program and a teacher in Coffee County. “Special education does need more caring and energetic teachers who will try to stay in the field, no matter how tough it gets. The grant is a great start.” In addition to the MASE program, Lipscomb University also offers a Master of Arts in Learning & Teaching and a Master of Arts in Teaching English Language Learners in the accelerated format and a Master of Education in Instructional Leadership and a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision in a traditional format. For more information about the scholarship opportunities or the MASE program, contact Katie Reel at (615) 966-7157 or visit the Web site http://www.lipscomblci.org/.
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