Early Childhood Special Education Teacher Program at UW Superior

Esko, Minn. —  The need for special education teachers is growing. And for special education teachers in the early childhood years, the need is growing even faster. Recently the University of Wisconsin Superior began an online only licensure track for students to obtain the birth through three childhood special education license.

This is the Growing with Love Childcare Center in Esko…these kids are not ones that require special attention. But there are many other children who do have special education needs.

Special Education is for children who may not have the ability to learn at the same way or at the same pace as other kids. These kids or student will benefit from having a teacher who has the knowledge to help find different ways of learning. Often the children who can use this help must first be identified according to Amanda Zbacnik, one of the two educators who created this licensure track.

Amanda Zbacnik said, “Our program, our licensure track helps those in that position maybe notice if there are some red flags in these early milestones and whether it might be with mobility, or speech of cognitive challenges, any of those areas.”

The UW Superior Early Childhood Special Education licensure track is unique in the region. With this license a teacher could finish school with four different, but related Licenses.

” We call it the Unicorn License,” said Zbacnik. “So how wonderful to walk to walk away with an elementary education license, a K-12 Special education license and a birth through third grade license and early childhood special education.”

At Growing with Love, the owner and director, Amanda Smith, attended UW Superior where she took some elementary education courses. These classes have helped her assist the teachers with their lesson plans so that all the children learn while they’re at the center.

“It can be a little bit tricky because some of the kiddos can be here for ten hours a day while their parents are at work,” said Smith. “We can’t keep their attention span to learn the whole time, so we do a lot of learning through play.”

Zbacnik says even with more teachers who have an early childhood special education license, there will continue to be a great need for a team of professionals to be involved to ensure lifelong learning for those with special needs.

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