ETSU wins $1.25 million grant aimed at disability training 

Published 10:33 am Monday, June 17, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

East Tennessee State University professors earned a prestigious five-year, $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs that will help train dozens of professionals serving students with major disabilities.   

The highly competitive grant will support the project’s clear goal: Prepare highly qualified personnel to better assist students with major needs.   

Led by the Clemmer College of Education and Human Development, about 30 graduate students in occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology will receive training on a variety of topics related to serving students with extensive support needs.   

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We aim to provide scholars with interdisciplinary training through extensive coursework and a collaborative team-based approach,” said Dr. John Wheeler, interim chair of the Department of Educational Foundations and Special Education and the project’s principal investigator. “We are thrilled to receive this grant, as it will help this institution advance the mission of improving the quality of life for the people of the region and beyond.”    

The study will be led by Wheeler and Dr. Pamela Mims, the project’s co-investigator and a Special Education professor and associate dean of Research and Grants with a respected history of winning major grants and studying student behavior.  

The university is recognized across the state and nation for its efforts to aid those with disabilities.   

Access ETSU, a program that has provided critical support to young adults with intellectual disabilities for the past five years, earned a $400,000 grant last summer aimed at guiding students into competitive employment and independent living.   

The latest grant will include collaboration from many across the university.   

That includes Dr. Kara Boynewicz, an associate professor in the Physical Therapy program; Dr. Bess Sirmon-Taylor, chair and professor of the Speech-Language Pathology program; and Dr. Christy Isbell, associate professor of Occupational Therapy.   

Six project scholars per year will participate in targeted training featuring coursework, seminars and supervised field experiences.   

“All those who participate in the training will be prepared to meet the identified needs and challenges of serving students with significant disabilities,” said Mims. “We are so excited to help train these professionals, who will in turn go into the world with evidence-based practices to see lives improved.”   

ETSU professors regularly produce premier scholarships, with faculty and staff often winning competitive grants and fellowships.