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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 23, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 23
SPSBE Partners With Montgomery and PG Counties to Train Special Ed Teachers

To address the Maryland State Department of Education's serious shortage of special educators across the state, two divisions of SPSBE are working with Prince George's and Montgomery counties to recruit teachers.

In Prince George's County, a partnership program funded by a grant from the United States Department of Education is aiming at preparing 40 new special education teachers over a four-year period to serve children in grades 1-12 who have mild to moderate disabilities.

Margaret King-Sears, professor of education at SPSBE and director of the project, said that participants in the program will receive 80 percent tuition assistance to complete their master of science degree in special education and will be employed in Prince George's County Public Schools concurrent with the completion of their two-year master's degree program, which leads to full certification for teaching students with mild to moderate disabilities. Teacher candidates are obligated to fulfill a two-year teaching requirement in PGCPS.

Patricia Jamison, director of special education for Prince George's County Public Schools, said, "The demand for special educators is very high, and this partnership with Johns Hopkins will help us to recruit, prepare and retain the really exceptional educators that are needed to work with our students."

Potential teachers include men and women seeking a career change and who have an undergraduate degree in an area other than special education, King-Sears said. Provisionally certified teachers also are eligible for the program. An information session for interested persons is being held at the university's Columbia Center at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 5.

To address its shortage of special education instructors, the Montgomery County Public School system is again working with SBSBE's Graduate Division of Education to recruit and prepare teachers through the Professional Immersion Special Education Master of Science. The program was established in 2003 after the Maryland State Department of Education declared a critical statewide shortage of certified special education teachers for the third year in a row, as well as shortages of teachers who are male and members of minority groups.

The two-year ProSEMS program, which is open to individuals with a four-year undergraduate degree, prepares special education teachers to work with students who have mild to moderate learning disabilities. The 42-credit program offers one concentration for those interested in teaching elementary or middle school (grades 1-8) and another for those interested in teaching secondary schools and adults (grades 6-12).

In addition to taking classes, students gain classroom experience. During the first year of the program, they work as substitute teachers for one semester and then as teaching interns during the second. Throughout this time, students receive intensive supervision from Johns Hopkins faculty and educators from Montgomery County schools.

Candidates receive tuition assistance and are eligible for a stipend in the second year of the program, when they become full-time teaching fellows. The program leads to a master of science degree in special education with eligibility for Maryland state certification in special education. Upon completion of the program, the teacher-candidates must teach for three years in Montgomery County public schools if offered a teaching contract.

To learn more about the Prince George's program or to download an application, go to

For additional information, contact Margaret King-Sears, project director, at 301-297-7040 or; or Jill Hildenbrand, Prince George's County Public Schools project liaison, at 301-408-5505 or

Applications are also being taken now for the next ProSEMS class for Montgomery County teachers, which will start in August; for information and applications, contact Sarah Slater, ProSEMS program coordinator, at 301-294-7940 or


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