Teacher reading a book with student

The USF College of Education was awarded a grant to support education professionals pursuing doctoral studies in leadership roles within the field of special education.

The $1,235,013 grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs and will take place over a five-year period. The project will be managed by College of Education faculty members Phyllis Jones, PhD, Zorka Karanxha, Ed.D. and Sarah Semon, Ph.D.

The Leadership in Literacy Interventions grant will support five doctoral scholars from Hillsborough and Pasco School districts who aspire to assume leadership roles focused on implementation of intensive literacy interventions within the context of systems-change efforts. Individuals who hold a valid state of Florida Reading Endorsement and who have experience in Special Education are eligible for the program.

“This grant provides a unique opportunity to build district capacity and improve literacy outcomes for our most vulnerable students,” said Jones, a professor of special education in the College of Education’s Department of Teaching and Learning.

During the program, students will work towards a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Special Education, as well as a cognate in Educational Leadership that includes the requirements for Level 1 Educational Leadership Certification by the Florida Department of Education. Students enrolled in the program will receive a yearly stipend of $35,000 and mentorship from USF faculty while conducting literacy intervention research.

Upon graduation, scholars will assume roles as state special education administrators, local special education directors, school-based special education directors or early intervention coordinators.

“The mission of the College of Education is to transform education to better serve children and communities, especially those that have been underserved. Preparing educational professionals who can lead programs to enhance literacy outcomes for exceptional learners is a moral imperative, and we are proud to have received this funding in order to prepare educators in the Tampa Bay region,” said Robert C. Knoeppel, PhD, Dean of the College of Education.