A new Oklahoma City Public Schools program is aiming to recruit more special education teachers in a non-traditional way.
The program is called Special Education Boot Camp and it gives candidates 30 hours of hands-on training before getting their certification.
For 20 years Erin Trussell has been working with special education students at OKCPS. A job she says she was made for.
“I wanted to get into it from the minute I was in high school. I took a class, I was the assistant, saw students with special needs and said, ‘This is what I want to do’,” said the OKCPS special education director.
One thing she notices is the high turnover rate within her field and colleges not graduating as many special education teachers. She hopes a new non-traditional way of training can help the district retain special education teachers.
“It’s different because you are going into the classroom before you go into school. It really shows you what is going on and then you can go into your course work and utilize it together,” she said.
The free six-week program is for people with a bachelor’s degree in any field. Before signing up candidates must commit to either getting a master’s or certification in special education.
“For Oklahoma City Public Schools if they stay with us and teach with us we will work with them on reimbursing those college courses,” said Trussell.
Right now, the district is short 15 special education teachers without counting those retiring at the end of the year.
“Know that it is going to be really hard work but know that it is going to be the most rewarding work that there is,” said Trussell.