Grant helps alleviate special education teacher shortage

A new grant may help NAU increase the number of certified special educators and combat Arizona’s special education teacher shortage.

The Institute for Human Development has been awarded a four-year, $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund 28 students to complete master’s degrees in low-incidence disabilities with a certificate in assistive technology.

The grant is known as CREATE—Curriculum, Resources, and Education in Assistive Technology in Education. The project will be led by Lawrence Gallagher, chair of educational specialties in the College of Education, andJanis Doneski-Nicol, program coordinator for the Institute for Human Development and assistive technology center.

“The combination of the master’s degree with an assistive technology certificate is unusual,” Gallagher said. “Not too many people hold that combination of credentials, and districts are likely to hire a person with the most variety of backgrounds.”

Doneski-Nicol said that she and Gallagher hope to increase the number of certified special education teachers.

“We want to make sure teachers are trained so they will remain in that field and be capable of meeting the needs of their students,” she said.

Students who participate in the program will have the opportunity to complete various labs at the assistive technology center at NAU and increase their number of fieldwork experiences.

“The depth of training is typically beyond what most people in that field begin with,” Gallagher said. “This program gives students the chance to apply theory in action and receive more advanced training.”

Doneski-Nicol encourages interested students to apply and contact her for information at or (928) 523-5878.