Do you enjoy working with children on a personalized basis? Are you adept at responding to the needs of different learners? Are you patient, caring, and understanding of those whom others might see as different? If so, you might be the perfect candidate for Buffalo State College’s Exceptional Education and Childhood Education Program.
Exceptional education is a cross-categorical program that focuses on educating students with special instructional needs. Undergraduate exceptional education majors learn to teach children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, physical/neurological disabilities, and learning and behavioral difficulties. While most students who graduate from this major become special education or elementary education teachers, others use their skills to serve individuals with disabilities in different capacities—behavior specialists, job coaches, or direct support specialists. Others continue their education at the graduate level to prepare for careers in speech pathology, social work, or higher education.
Christine Garas, who will graduate in May 2019, loves Buffalo State’s option of dual certification in childhood education and exceptional education. “When I realized I had this choice, I pursued it. I knew I’d have more options for getting a job, but more importantly, I’d have the chance to work with different types of students. With my degree, I’ll be able to work anywhere from a regular classroom to a self-contained one. Friends who are studying education at other schools don’t necessarily have that option.”
Kathy Doody, Buffalo State associate professor of exceptional education, led a research study on play and children with autism and another on the value teacher candidates find working with children on the autism spectrum in recreational and community-based programs. “My premise is that teacher preparation programs should embed more authentic opportunities into our preparatory programs for exceptional education teachers,” Doody said, “which allow them to work with children and families outside of a classroom setting.”
Part of Buffalo State’s School of Education, our exceptional education program prepares students for initial certifications as teachers of childhood education and childhood special education (grades one through six) in New York State. The bachelor of science degree in exception education and childhood education program is a dual certification program: Teachers of Childhood Special Education and Childhood Education
Students majoring in exceptional education and childhood education develop a number of skills that will help them throughout their careers —regardless of the jobs they choose. They’ve been trained to think critically, problem-solve in collaborative groups, analyze situations, use data to help develop goals and appropriate plans, and implement evidence-based practices and procedures.
Students who pursue initial certification in both childhood special education and childhood education are particularly well-qualified to work with students with special needs in integrated education settings. While preparing for this field at Buffalo State, our students benefit from:
Buffalo State is committed to providing all education students with plenty of hands-on experiences outside the classroom. Below are some opportunities open to exceptional education majors:
A number of our exceptional education faculty members work with students on undergraduate research. The department also offers a special scholarship aimed at supporting student/mentor relationships grounded in undergraduate research opportunities.
As an institution, Buffalo State backs its commitment by putting substantial financial resources behind faculty-mentored undergraduate research. The Undergraduate Research Office promotes, supports, and funds undergraduate research in all academic areas—from the sciences to the arts—and for all committed students. More than 400 students present their research through posters and performances each year at the Student Research and Creativity Celebration. They also compete for Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowships, which support eight weeks of paid research activity
While students in all of the education majors do not have internships per se, most exceptional education students complete their fieldwork in schools, agencies, and hospitals. Students work under the supervision of classroom teachers throughout Western New York. Students who take a service-learning course within the department are exposed to an even greater range of experiences. They complete their field hours in places such as:
Exceptional education and childhood education graduates typically obtain positions as teachers in inclusive classrooms, resource rooms, self-contained classrooms, special schools, residential facilities, or as consultant teachers in general education settings. Special education is and has been considered a high-need area across the nation. Projections indication that there will be more jobs in the coming years than those qualified to enter the special education field. Many of our graduates have progressed in their careers as school principals, superintendents, college professors, and researchers. They have also been employed in agencies and schools in states across the nation.
In addition to teaching, our exceptional education graduates may serve individuals with disabilities in different capacities such as behavior specialists, job coaches, or direct support specialists. These are some of the specialty areas that exceptional education graduates pursue:
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