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The 2009-10 special education scholars are, from left, front row, Nancy Robledo, Daisy Arias and Susan Kim; back row, Michelle Pakingan, Vikki Jones, Rehana Amer, Amy McLain, project director Janice Myck-Wayne and Hana Kim. 

Special Education Scholars

U.S. Department of Education Grant Supports Future Preschool Teachers

November 2, 2009

By Debra Cano Ramos

By sheer coincidence, Susan Kim found her calling after working with special needs preschool children as a Cal State Fullerton undergraduate.

Janice Myck-Wayne, assistant professor of special education and project director.

“Once I began working with the children, I had the desire to work in the education field to help children with special needs be successful in the classroom and at home,” said Kim, who had taken the job to help pay for college.

Kim, who recently earned a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies, is now enrolled in the College of Education’s early childhood special education credential program.

This time, she can focus on her post-baccalaureate studies without having to work.

Kim and seven other early childhood special education credential students have been selected as the first class of Inclusion: Developmentally Responsive to Educational Experiences that are Accessible and Meaningful.

Each scholar will receive a $9,000 scholarship to help them pursue careers teaching young children — ages 5 and under — with disabilities.

The scholarship program was made possible through a U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs grant. The university received $156,223 of first-year funding of a four-year award anticipated to total $745,867.

“By being in this scholarship program, I hope to gain the experience and knowledge to successfully implement what I learn with the students I will be working with,” Kim said.

Over the next four years, the grant will fund a total of 40 early childhood special education credential candidates — including this year’s students — enrolled in the one-year teacher preparation program, said Janice Myck-Wayne, assistant professor of special education and project director.

The scholarship money will help students pay for university fees, books and conference costs, as well as other educational expenses.

“The scholarship program gives us the opportunity to not have to work so that we can concentrate more on our studies and be more actively involved in our student teaching,” said Kim, who lives in Downey. “The program also pays for us to go to relevant seminars to further our development in becoming fully equipped and knowledgeable specialists in our field.”

Meeting Special Needs

Currently there is a shortage of qualified special education teachers to instruct preschool-age students with disabilities, said Myck-Wayne, program coordinator of early childhood special education.

As a result, there is a need to recruit and train culturally and linguistically diverse teacher candidates, she added.

“Through this project, teacher candidates will receive the advanced skills necessary to provide services to families and their young children with disabilities in developmentally appropriate natural and inclusive settings,” said Myck-Wayne, who taught special education in Los Angeles Unified School District for 23 years.

The grant focuses on increasing natural and inclusion opportunities in early childhood settings, as well as developing a model program.

Natural settings refer to places that all children access, including school, home and community settings. Supporting children with disabilities in natural settings consists of assisting these students in childcare centers, including before- and after-school care, as well as at community, sports and camp programs — the same settings typical for a child’s peers who are not disabled, Myck-Wayne explained.

Inclusive classrooms are where special needs children are taught in a general education setting with their nondisabled peers.

Through the Inclusion program, new curriculum for the university’s early childhood special education program will be developed and implemented, Myck-Wayne said.

“We will develop a framework for instruction that addresses gaps in instruction in the areas of inclusion, addresses challenging behaviors in young children with disabilities and provide assessment and intervention tools for very young English language learners,” Myck-Wayne said.

2009-10 Scholars

Along with Kim, the 2009-10 scholars, are: Rehana Amer, Lake Forest (B.S. child and adolescent development ’09) Daisy Arias, Baldwin Park (B.S. child and adolescent development ’08) Hana Kim, Fullerton, (B.S. child and adolescent development ’08) Vikki Jones, Corona (B.A. communications ’94) Michelle Pakingan, Lake Forest (B.S. child and adolescent development ’09) Nancy Robledo, Santa Ana (B.S. child and adolescent development ’09) Amy McLain, Buena Park

College of Education faculty members involved with the project are Kristin K. Stang, associate professor of special education; Suzanne E. Robinson, assistant professor of special education; and Rosario Ordonez-Jasis, associate professor of reading.

The deadline to apply for the 2010-11 special education credential program is Feb. 28. Students must be enrolled in the credential program to apply for a scholarship. The 2010-11 scholarship application deadline will be announced this spring.

For more information about the program or to apply for a scholarship, contact Myck-Wayne at or go to the Special Education website.

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