$1 million Federal Education Grant to Fairfield University solidifies Special/Bilingual Education program


Dr. David Aloyzy ZeraFairfield University's Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) has been awarded a five-year grant of more than $1 million from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to fund Project SETTELL (Special Education Training for Teachers of English Language Learners) according to notification by U. S. Congressman Christopher Shays' office. As a result, Project Director Dr. David Aloyzy Zera and Project Co-Director Dr. Dan Geller have initiated an accelerated application process to select a limited number of candidates whose tuition and registration will be fully funded beginning in Fall 2007.

An informational open house is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 7 at 1 p.m. Qualified applicants are invited to take advantage of the unique opportunities this program offers by attending the concentrated introductory gathering. For further information and location of the open house, potential candidates should contact the Office of Graduate and Continuing Studies Admission at (203) 254-4184, (toll free) 888-488-6840 or e-mail gradadmis@mail.fairfield.edu. There is also a general Graduate Information Session planned for Tuesday, July 24 from 5:30-7 p.m. where interested people may learn more about this program in advance of the open house.

Congressman Shays said, "I appreciate the U. S. Department of Education's decision to select Fairfield University as the recipient of this much needed funding. This grant will provide Fairfield University the opportunity to further its professional development activities to improve instruction for children with limited English proficiency and assist education personnel to achieve the high professional standards and certification required in English language instruction."

University President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J. said, "This sizable grant enables our graduate bilingual teachers to enter our community schools with the formidable and creative tools that will make it possible for them to address the needs of a rapidly growing population of bilingual and special needs children. As beneficiaries of a successful educational experience, we will see these children live up to their potential."

Dr. Zera explained that "the Project is designed to cover a five-year period, thus, the initial award for 'year 1' is $264,698 and the award is expected to continue for four more years to total $1,061,355. We are delighted to have the ability to build on the previous U.S. DOE grant of $845,000 that concludes at the end of September." According to Dr. Zera, "Project SETTELL satisfies the State of Connecticut's plans for serving mainstream educated students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and students identified as having exceptional learning needs.

Dr. Zera highlighted the program features as follow:

  • To provide candidates with specific competencies through course work and field experiences.
  • To provide candidates with expertise in consultation and collaboration that will enable them to assist education personnel in developing appropriate educational programs for LEP children and children with special education needs.
  • To increase the understanding of technology for children with special education needs and/or LEP.
  • To fulfill Connecticut State requirements for dual certification in Special Education and/or Bilingual Education and/or Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

Dr. Zera described the ideal candidate as one who is bilingual in English/Spanish or English/Portuguese and has earned a Bachelor's degree. Preference will be given to those who have passed the PRAXIS 1 teacher assessment program or its equivalent.

"There is a critical need in Connecticut for certified and qualified special and bilingual educators." said Dr. Zera. "Through Project SETTELL," he continued, "we are assured of providing multi-trained professionals for school systems in Bridgeport, Norwalk, Stamford and beyond that serve children with limited English proficiency and children with Special Education needs. Those who successfully complete the program will receive one of several advanced degrees and they will be eligible for two certifications from the Connecticut State Department of Education. And that is a 'win-win' situation for everyone."

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 9, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 6