AUNE’s Holistic Special Education Program a Win for Teachers and Students

Two years since Antioch University New England (AUNE) started its holistic special education program, many students in the Master of Education program have job offers before they even graduate. Their dual certification in elementary education and special education makes them very desirable candidates for teaching positions.

“Our graduates from the Holistic Special Education program are receiving job offers right away,” said Teri Young, core faculty in AUNE’s education department. “They are in demand at a time when principals are looking for teachers who are resourceful and skilled at differentiating instruction for students with diverse learning needs.”

AUNE’s Holistic Special Education program integrates coursework covering the foundational principles required for elementary educators with coursework designed for special educators, such as training in assessment and writing individualized education programs (IEPs). The program also cultivates the ability to modify instructional strategies to meet student’s individual needs.

AUNE students pursuing dual certification with special education complete their work in the same time it would take to complete a single certification—16 months. In that time, students complete additional special education courses. Students complete two internships, one in elementary education and one in special education.

“Our program prepares teachers to meet the developmental needs of the whole child. We address how the child is influenced by family, cultural background, socioeconomic class, language, and social groups,” said Young, who has more than 20 years of experience in education and community-based programs for at-risk youth. “The diverse academic and social backgrounds each child has translates to diverse learning styles. So a teacher who has multiple instructional strategies is better positioned to help more children succeed in school and their communities.”

The program aligns with educational trends that value teachers with advanced training in differentiated instructional strategies, including those that meet the needs of special education students with IEPs. Holistic education approaches make teachers more versatile and result in fewer student referrals to outside special education programs, which can save money for school districts.

“I loved the program,” said Sadie Mayfield, a 2014 graduate of the Master of Education program at AUNE. “I was offered a job at my internship and have since moved on to a different age group that allows me to coordinate with many regular educators and co-teach and support them with greater differentiation with great confidence. The dual certification also gave me a lot of options when applying for jobs.”

“Antioch University New England is well known for nature-based and outdoor education approaches that empower teachers to incorporate the arts, inquiry-based learning, and community building,” said Young. “We attract passionate and ambitious students in the first place. Their enthusiasm and passion is infectious. They are the type of people you want on your teaching team.”

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