University of North Texas

UNT Insider | March 2012 issue | UNT receives $1.2 million grant to train special education leaders

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UNT receives $1.2 million grant to train special education leaders

From a UNT News Service press release

UNT has received a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to train and educate future leaders of special education programs.

The program, named Project TELL (Training Effective Leaders for High-Needs Schools through Local Partnerships), will offer a doctoral program in special education within the Department of Educational Psychology in the College of Education.

Project TELL uniquely combines leadership and management training with traditional doctoral work in special education, giving scholars enrolled in the program a combination of public school administration and special education systems-change experience to prepare the scholars for success in leadership positions.

Three area school districts, Birdville ISD, DeSoto ISD and Lewisville ISD, will partner with UNT for the project. Scholars enrolled in the program will work with the school districts to assess areas for improvement and to implement changes that will strengthen special education programs leading to better outcomes for students.

"Doctoral students enrolled in Project TELL will be required to develop interventions to address challenges facing participating school districts and implement those interventions, in conjunction with traditional doctoral degree requirements," says Bertina Combes, associate professor of educational psychology and program director. "This will not only help the school districts involved, but will give students real leadership experience requiring them to make systemic changes to improve the education of students with disabilities."

Smita Mehta, associate professor of educational psychology, and Endia Lindo, assistant professor of educational psychology, will work with Combes on the project. Twelve scholars will receive full scholarship funding and stipends through the grant, and will begin the program as a group in summer 2012.

Jerry Thomas, dean of the College of Education, believes the program will have a long-lasting positive impact on both UNT and the school districts involved.

"We are always excited about working with local public schools," Thomas says. "The long-term values will be more relevant and valuable preparation of doctoral students well beyond the period of the grant."

Leslie Wimmer with UNT News Service can be reached at

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March 2012

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