story by Claire Miller
College of Education & Human Development faculty members Christopher Tullis, Sarah Hansen and Claire Donehower have established a new initiative to combat the shortage of educators and behavior analysts who can support young children with high-intensity needs.
The initiative, called Project Behavioral Early Education Scholars (BEES), will recruit, train and support 40 graduate students interested in becoming early childhood special education teachers, early interventionists and behavior analysts.
“The overarching purpose – and most exciting part of Project BEES – is that we have the opportunity to prepare early childhood special education teachers and behavior analysts alongside one another in a unique, collaborative environment. This model will help develop teachers and behavior analysts who are better prepared to serve kids with disabilities and their families,” Donehower said.
Students will learn to address the academic, behavioral, communication and socioemotional needs of children with high-intensity needs, such as those who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and will receive mentoring and professional development opportunities during and after completing a master’s degree in either applied behavior analysis or early childhood special education.
“Both sets of professionals will not only have specialized training in their own discipline but also have supplemental training in a complementary field. We are excited to see the difference our graduates are able to make in the lives of young children with developmental disabilities,” Donehower said.
This work is supported by a $1.2 million U.S. Department of Education grant.