SFC Addresses Pressing Need in New York Schools with Master’s in Special Education
This semester, St. Francis College (SFC) launched its first master’s degree program in education, the M.S.Ed. in special education, for which there is considerable demand throughout New York City and State. The program will be overseen by Director of Graduate Programs for Education Dr. Clarence Williams, retired Assistant Superintendent of the New York City Department of Education and a certified special education teacher.
“It’s been the number-one or number-two needs area in New York City schools for a number of years,” said Dr. Jennifer Lancaster, SFC Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean. “Our students want to get their master’s, and they want to get into special ed and stay in it.”
The program will prepare teachers with the knowledge and skills to not only maximize the learning potential for students with special needs, but also address the complex needs of students in first through sixth grades who have experienced loss of learning due to the pandemic. It embodies the College’s Franciscan mission of caring and serving, understanding the challenges that students have faced.
“Special ed was chosen to fulfill a shortage of teachers, but I would add that all teachers — regardless of the type of classroom in which they end up teaching — need to know how to individualize instruction and to work with students with different needs,” said Dr. Lisa M. Paolucci ’06, Chair of SFC’s Education Department. “Whether a teacher teaches in a classroom that is specifically designated as special education or whether they remain in a general classroom setting, they still will benefit from having the knowledge and experience of assessing students’ differing needs.”
The 18-month program will provide instruction in legal aspects, assessment, instructional programming, behavior management and collaboration within the school setting. It is open to individuals who have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and hold an initial certification in childhood education. Upon completion, students will be eligible to apply for the New York State certificate to work with students with disabilities in grades 1 through 6 and qualify as elementary special education teachers as well as other positions in community and government agencies.
“Current students are very excited,” said Paolucci. “We have had principals that we work with through the student-teaching program tell us they really like to hire teachers who have a license in special education in addition to a classroom teaching certificate.”
Enrollment is open until October 31 for the current cohort. This is a hybrid program with both online instruction and a conveniently scheduled weekly class at the College’s new campus.
St. Francis College graduates are eligible for the Alumni Gratitude Tuition Discount Program if they are in good standing with the College, have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree, graduated from the class of 2014 or later and are active members of the SFC alumni community. Alumni who meet these requirements will be eligible for a 30% discount, paying just $450 per credit.