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Exterior of the Thelma P. Lally School of Education

The College of Saint Rose has received a $1.1 million federal grant for its Thelma P. Lally School of Education to develop teachers and school psychologists who are highly skilled at working with school-age children with disabilities by viewing their needs through the lens of cultural diversity and mental health.

The U.S. Department of Education informed Saint Rose it received the five-year grant last week for Project THRIVE (Targeting Healthy Resiliency in Vested Educators). Project THRIVE will work with – and fund the majority of tuition for – 24 master’s degree students in special education or school psychology and provide those students with the latest techniques and information for helping school-age children with high-intensity needs and their families.

Some of the issues addressed include assisting English language learners (ELLs) who have faced trauma related to immigration, acculturation, linguistic barriers, and discrimination; individuals with disabilities; and students with mental health needs.

Project THRIVE also aims to address a shortage of both special education teachers and school psychologists. According to the New York State Department of Education, between the 2009-2010 and 2014-2015 academic years, enrollment in teacher education programs has decreased by roughly 49%. Meanwhile, the National Coalition of Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services reports that, nationwide, over half of all school districts and 90% of high-poverty districts report difficulty attracting highly qualified special educators.

In the field of school psychology, the National Association of School Psychologists predicts that there will be a shortage of almost 15,000 school psychologists in the United States by 2020.

“The Thelma P. Lally School of Education has a legacy of preparing educators who are attuned to meeting the needs of students in every way in order for students to achieve their utmost potential,” said President Carolyn J. Stefanco. “This grant will allow our incredibly skilled faculty to help educators meet the growing need to provide school-age children with a holistic approach to classroom learning.”

The 24 candidates selected as scholars could include recent college graduates, certified teachers seeking to add certifications, or career-changers desiring to enter the field of education. The first cohort of students will begin Project THRIVE in Fall 2020. Candidates should apply through the Office of Graduate Admissions at Saint Rose.

Project THRIVE-funded scholars will complete a two- or three-year master’s degree program that emphasizes a culturally responsive, family-centered philosophy with recommended practices for school-age children with disabilities as core content. Field experiences will occur in urban, suburban, and rural high-need local educational agencies in the economically challenged communities within the greater Capital Region. Team-based practice and professional networking will be frequent through remote and face-to-face opportunities.

The project will be led by Dr. Frances Ihle, associate professor of literacy and special education, and Dr. Elizabeth Power, assistant professor of school psychology.

“Project THRIVE comes at a critical time for school-age children and the professionals responsible for educating them,” said Dr. Theresa Ward, interim dean of the Thelma P. Lally School of Education. “Education stretches beyond solving math problems and reading text. Children come to school with a host of needs – whether disabilities, mental health and trauma issues, or both – and those factors must be addressed before academics begin. I am proud of our faculty for stepping forward as leaders to answer this call, and we are all grateful for the federal funding to enable this significant work.”