- Program overview
- Admission Requirements
- Job Prospects
- Why Prospective Education Majors Choose Highlands?
- Special Education Major (BA)
- Special Education Certificate
- Elementary/Special Education (ELSP) Dual Major (BA)
Emily Williams, PhD., Assistant Professor Special Education, Department Chair Special Education and Teacher Education
She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Secondary Education (Language Arts) from Ottawa University, a Masters of Arts in Special Education from the University of Florida, an Ed. S. in School Psychology and a Ph. D. in Special Education from New Mexico State University. As a k-12 educator in Florida and New Mexico in General and Special Education and served as a school psychologist for several years. Her research interests include teaching efficacy, parents and families of children with disabilities, online education, and Autism based disorders.
Paul James (PJ) Sedillo, PhD., Assistant Professor
Dr. Sedillo is a native from Albuquerque, received his BA degree in Elementary Education from Highlands University, Las Vegas NM., Masters in Special Education from UNM (University of New Mexico), and Doctorate from UNM in Special Education with an emphasis on counseling and the gifted and talented. Dr. PJ Sedillo’s dissertation entitled A Retrospective Study of Gay Gifted, Young Adult Males’ Perceptions of Giftedness and Suicide is a qualitative, retrospective study that investigated suicidal ideation among 32 young adult men. Participants were asked to report their experiences as adolescents. The primary focus of the study was to discover how gay gifted adolescents dealt with issues of suicide and suicidal ideation. Based on the study’s outcome, a theory of suicidal ideation was proposed, and an assessment was designed for future studies. He taught within the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) for the past twenty-four years as a general/special and gifted education teacher. He was also a Resource Teacher assisting newly hired teachers of the Gifted to APS. Currently, Dr. PJ Sedillo is an assistant professor at New Mexico Highlands University in the special education/gifted department.
Yvonne Moreno, PhD., Term Professor
Undergraduate, Special Education
The Bachelors in Special Education prepares undergraduate students in evidence-based teaching approaches for students with exceptionalities. Field-base experiences are integrated into the instructional program. Students must complete the requirements for entrance to the Teacher Preparation Program. Education students may select a major in special education. Special education students receive instruction in using evidence-based teaching approaches for students with exceptionalities. Field-base experiences are integrated into the instructional program. This major program meets requirements for special education licensure set by the NMPED.
Masters of Arts in Special Education
The Masters of Arts in Special Education program prepares graduate candidates in meeting the needs of students with learning, behavioral, emotional, mental, and/or physical disabilities in grades PreK-12. Using current research and best practices, candidates are immersed in practical, hands-on experiences in developing and implementing curriculum, providing accommodations and modifications, and constructing individualized goals. Special education candidates receive instruction in using evidence-based teaching approaches for students with exceptionalities. Field-base experiences are integrated into the instructional program. This major program meets requirements for special education licensure set by the NMPED.
Gifted Education, Undergraduate
The purpose of the Gifted Education Program at New Mexico Highlands University is to prepare teachers and other candidates with knowledge, skills, and experience to work with PreK-12 gifted children from diverse cultural, linguistic, and developmental backgrounds. This program meets the competency requirements for education licensure/endorsement for the state of New Mexico. Gifted education candidates receive instruction in using evidence-based teaching approaches for students with exceptionalities. Field-base experiences are integrated into the instructional program. This major program meets requirements for Gifted licensure set by the NMPED.
Elementary/Special Education Dual Undergraduate Program
The Elementary/Special Education DUAL Program offered at Highlands University combines requirements for both Special Education and Elementary Education to prepare candidates interested in serving students in both or either area. No minor is required with this major. Candidates are immersed in practical, hands-on experiences in developing and implementing General Education and Special Education curriculum, providing accommodations and modifications, and constructing individualized goals. Candidates receive instruction in using evidence-based teaching approaches for students with and without exceptionalities. Field-base experiences are integrated into the instructional program. This major program meets requirements for both Elementary and Special Education licensure set by the NMPED.
Requirements for Admission to Teacher Preparation and Licensure Programs Admission to the School of Education is a separate and independent process from admission to the university. Candidates need to purchase a Chalk and Wire license through the university bookstore.
All applications for admission into the School of Education are only accepted through Chalk and Wire. Candidates must complete all requirements listed in Gateway Alpha before they are admitted. If a candidate is deficient in any one of the Gateway Alpha requirements, admission will be denied, until all requirements are met. Students should contact the School of Education early in their freshman year to receive guidance in the process. Early advisement is essential to avoid delays in meeting all requirements. Consultation with an education adviser is essential to establish a program of courses.
An overall grade point average of at least 2.5 is required. In addition, the following courses must be completed with a grade of C or better: GNED 201 Introduction to Teaching, GNED 251 Field-Base 1 Teacher Prep Experience, SPED 214 Introduction to Special Education
Students must also complete the following proficiencies and submit an application through Chalk and Wire for admission into the School of Education:
- Complete the appropriate freshman and sophomore courses in the university’s core curriculum together with additional extended core courses required for education majors and minors by the New Mexico Public Education Department.
- The choices to be made will reflect the requirements for licensing that have been set by the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED). These courses include: 12 hours in English 12 hours in science 12 hours in history 6 hours in fine arts 6 hours in social/behavioral science 6 -9 hours in mathematics. 3. Take the New Mexico Teacher Assessment (NMTA) exams to be eligible for student teaching.
- New Mexico Highlands University Students must have passed the Basic Skills and Content Knowledge exams of the NMTA to be approved for student teaching. Students must pass the Assessment of Teacher Competency Exam of the NMTA in the areas of Special Education, and elementary, or secondary education to receive NMPED licensure.
- Students have no more than two opportunities to complete successfully any of the field-based experiences. With the submission of the School of Education application, the candidate must have established an electronic portfolio, completed the disclosure form via Chalk and Wire, submitted disposition assessments from designated classes and field-based experiences, and appropriate artifacts from GNED 201. Students will also be asked to submit other artifacts from other education classes. Details of this process and the required minimum scores are available from the School of Education. Students seeking a bilingual endorsement are required to pass the Prueba de Español para la Certifición Bilingües exam.
- Students must maintain close communication with Academic Support Services and the School of Education regarding these important examinations.
- Requirements for Admission to Clinical Practice and for Placement in Student Teaching (Field-Base III Teacher Preparation or Internship in Teaching) Students must submit, through their adviser, a formal application for admission to the Office of Field Experiences. The application form is available on Chalk and Wire. Adverse decisions concerning admittance can be appealed first to the program’s admission committee and then to the school dean.
- For admission to clinical practice, a 2.75 overall grade point average is required. Students must complete a degree audit with the Office of the Registrar and meet periodically with their education advisers for a check on their advancement through the Gateways, academic progress, and verification of successful completion of the appropriate sections of the NMTA exam. Prospective candidates should discuss this requirement with their education advisers. Candidates for placement in student teaching will file a formal application on Chalk and Wire prior to midterm of the preceding semester before they can be considered to begin student teaching. Prerequisites for advancement to student teaching (Field-Based III) are: A 2.75 overall grade point average; Required major courses, up to those for the final semester; All teacher licensure general education requirements; Secondary education minors: 24 credits in the academic major and 20 credits in the academic minor (if applicable), with an overall minimum GPA of 2.75; A passing score on all required New Mexico Teacher Assessment; and The application for Student Teaching on Chalk and Wire, with these additional requirements: A degree audit signed by the program advisers; Appropriate disposition assessments from designated classes; and Appropriate reference letters with documented dispositions.
The director of student teaching and each teaching discipline’s program committee will review the applications for approval, and those students whose applications are denied may appeal to the Office of the Dean.
Students who graduate from NMHU with degrees in Special Education are prepared to teach children in the P12 school years with special education or gifted education needs. They often take positions as special education teachers working with exceptional students and their families. They may also be employed as case managers who manage Individual Education Plans (IEPs).
Students who graduate from NMHU with degrees in Elementary/Special Education are prepared to teach children in the P12 school years with special education or elementary education needs.
NMHU Special Education Department has many prominently placed graduates in important positons, nationally. Among them are Mr. Daniel Benavidez, Director, email@example.com Tierra Encantada, SantaFe, Casey Benavidez, Assistant Director, firstname.lastname@example.org Tierra Encantada, SantaFe, Anna M. Valdez, Principal Family Partnership, West Las Vegas Schools, and Bob Pasternak, SPED DOE US.
Robert H. Pasternack, Ph.D. is the Senior Vice President of Special Education for Voyager Learning Company. Dr. Pasternack served as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) at the U.S. Department of Education from 2001 to 2004. During his tenure, he was responsible for the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In addition, Dr. Pasternack served on two Presidential Commissions, including the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education and the President’s Mental Health Commission. Dr. Pasternack also served as the Chair of the Federal Interagency Coordinating Committee during his appointment as the Assistant Secretary.
Prior to being appointed by President Bush to this position, Dr. Pasternack was the State Director of Special Education for the State of New Mexico. During his distinguished career in New Mexico, Dr. Pasternack was a teacher, a superintendent of schools, the director of the state’s first residential treatment center for children with serious emotional and behavioral problems, and Chief Executive Officer of New Mexico’s first licensed Comprehensive Children’s Community Mental Health Center. His work in New Mexico included improving outcomes and results for children with disabilities, implementing full day Kindergarten with mandatory use of scientifically based reading interventions, training of teachers on the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, parent-professional partnership, resiliency in juvenile delinquents, and a number of innovative efforts to serve ALL students.
Dr. Pasternack is a nationally certified school psychologist, a certified educational diagnostician, a certified school administrator, and a certified teacher (K-12). Recipient of numerous honors and awards, he is a frequent presenter at local, state, regional, national, and international conferences.
Among the many strengths inherent within our program that prompt NMHU Special Education students to choose Highlands, students cite the following as foremost as leading factors:
- Safety – Students can park next to the building and not have to walk great distances at night.
- Small Class Size
- World Class Professors
- Access to Advisors
Our program is accredited by NCATE and is leader amongst Special Education preparers in New Mexico, and nationally.