65 Georgia Teachers Complete First On-line Certification Program in Special Education at UGA

December 13, 2001

A group of 65 teachers from 17 Georgia counties will be the first to complete an innovative on-line certification program in special education when the University of Georgia College of Education holds its fall convocation Friday, Dec. 14.

The teachers are earning their special endorsement add-on certificate in interrelated special education through a program called Special Education Training on the Web (SETWEB). This certification allows teachers to work with special needs students and makes the teachers more marketable to school systems. The teachers will be recommended for certification by the state’s Professional Standards Commission after passing upcoming state exams.

There has been a critical shortage of special education teachers in Georgia schools over the last few years. The recruitment web site for Georgia’s public schools, www.TeachGeorgia.org, currently lists 23 vacant special education positions in 16 Georgia counties. “What makes SETWEB innovative is that our classes are not taught at the Athens campus, but are taught on the Web, in teleconferences and in three-day seminars,” said Phil McLaughlin, program advisor and associate professor of special education.

For busy teachers, these on-line courses offer the easiest route for additional certification while teaching full time.

“The main attraction [of the program] was the convenience. I could stay at home and work at my own pace within a certain time frame,” said Sheila Boutselis, a SETWEB participant and a teacher in her 21st year at Russell Elementary School in Houston County. “I did not have to leave my

family or miss out on special events because I was traveling or sitting in a classroom.”

The program takes about seven semesters to finish and was designed by the faculty of the university’s special education department. It is sponsored by Business to Teaching, an alternative certification program in UGA’s College of Education.

“The program’s courses are structured into work modules that a student must finish in a certain time frame, which is usually two weeks,” said William Bender, associate professor of special education and designer of the first SETWEB course. “Students have the freedom to complete the

module assignments at any point during these time frames. They have consistently sung the praises of this aspect of the program — being able to do the work when and where they want.”

SETWEB has allowed the College of Education to help fill a very critical need in Georgia schools, according to Theresa Miller, program advisor. “The program has allowed teachers from as far away as Grady County (in the southwest corner of the state) to earn their certification.” The College will hold its fall convocation at 4 p.m. at the Hugh Hodgson Hall Concert Hall at UGA’s Performing Arts Center.

UGA’s Business to Teaching program is designed to help people enter the field of teaching from other professions. Programs are available in mathematics education, occupational studies, science education, social science education and English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Most programs require an undergraduate degree for admission, although the degree does not have to be in education. Course schedules vary.

For more information, contact Business to Teaching at www.businesstoteaching.org or by calling toll-free 1-877-898-1183.