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Career and Education Opportunities for Special Needs Teachers in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for special needs teachers. There are currently 4,880 working special needs teachers in Michigan; this should grow by 17% to 5,680 working special needs teachers in the state by 2016. This is not quite as good as the national trend for special needs teachers, which sees this job pool growing by about 19.6% over the next eight years. In general, special needs teachers teach elementary and preschool school subjects to educationally and physically handicapped students.

The average wage in the general category of Special Education jobs is $17 per hour or $49,530 per year in Michigan, and an average of $22 per hour or $49,620 per year nationwide. Special needs teachers earn more than people working in the category of Special Education generally in Michigan and more than people in the Special Education category nationally. People working as special needs teachers can fill a number of jobs, such as: deaf teacher, exceptional student education teacher , and second grade teacher.

The Grand Rapids area is home to nineteen schools of higher education, including five within twenty-five miles of Grand Rapids where you can get a degree as a special needs teacher. Given that the most common education level for special needs teachers is a Bachelor's degree, you can expect to spend about four years studying to be a special needs teacher if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Special Needs Teacher

In general, special needs teachers teach elementary and preschool school subjects to educationally and physically handicapped students. They also includes teachers who specialize and work with audibly and visually handicapped students and those who teach basic academic and life processes skills to the mentally impaired.

Special needs teachers attend staff meetings and serve on committees, as required. They also maintain accurate and complete student records and ready reports on children and activities, as required by laws and administrative regulations. Equally important, special needs teachers have to attend professional meetings and teacher training workshops to maintain and improve professional competence. They are often called upon to teach socially acceptable behavior, employing techniques such as behavior modification and positive reinforcement. They are expected to talk with other staff members to develop and schedule lessons promoting learning, following approved curricula. Finally, special needs teachers modify the general education curriculum for special-needs students based upon a variety of instructional techniques and technologies.

Every day, special needs teachers are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they understand what others are saying to them even in a noisy environment.

It is important for special needs teachers to teach students personal development skills such as goal setting and self-advocacy. They are often called upon to perform administrative duties such as assisting in school libraries, hall and cafeteria monitoring, and bus loading and unloading. They also guide and counsel students with adjustment or academic problems, or special academic interests. They are sometimes expected to collaborate with other teachers and administrators in the development and revision of preschool or elementary school programs. Somewhat less frequently, special needs teachers are also expected to administer standardized ability and achievement tests and interpret results to establish students' strengths and areas of need.

Special needs teachers sometimes are asked to supervise and plan assignments for teacher assistants and volunteers. They also have to be able to visit schools to tutor students with sensory impairments and to confer with teachers regarding students' special needs and modify the general education curriculum for special-needs students based upon a variety of instructional techniques and technologies. And finally, they sometimes have to decide on, order, issue, and inventory classroom equipment and supplies.

Like many other jobs, special needs teachers must have exceptional integrity and believe in cooperation and coordination.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Grand Rapids include:

  • Adult Education Teacher. Teach or instruct out-of-school youths and adults in remedial education classes, preparatory classes for the General Educational Development test, literacy, or English as a Second Language. Teaching may or may not take place in a traditional educational institution.
  • High School Special Education Teacher. Teach secondary school subjects to educationally and physically handicapped students. Includes teachers who specialize and work with audibly and visually handicapped students and those who teach basic academic and life processes skills to the mentally impaired.
  • Kindergarten Teacher. Teach elemental natural and social science, personal hygiene, and literature to children from 4 to 6 years old. Promote physical, mental, and social development. May be required to hold State certification.
  • Special Education Teacher. Teach middle school subjects to educationally and physically handicapped students. Includes teachers who specialize and work with audibly and visually handicapped students and those who teach basic academic and life processes skills to the mentally impaired.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Special Needs Teacher Training

Calvin College - Grand Rapids, MI

Calvin College, 3201 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Calvin College is a small college located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,171 students and an admission rate of 94%. Calvin College has 2 areas of study related to Special Needs Teacher. They are:

  • Special Education and Teaching, bachelor's degree which graduated 11 students in 2008.
  • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Specific Learning Disabilities, master's degree which graduated 8 students in 2008.

Aquinas College - Grand Rapids, MI

Aquinas College, 1607 Robinson Rd SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506-1799. Aquinas College is a small college located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 2,159 students and an admission rate of 82%. Aquinas College has 2 areas of study related to Special Needs Teacher. They are:

  • Special Education and Teaching, bachelor's degree which graduated 2 students in 2008.
  • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Specific Learning Disabilities, bachelor's degree.

Hope College - Holland, MI

Hope College, 141 E 12th St, Holland, MI 49423. Hope College is a small college located in Holland, Michigan. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 3,238 students and an admission rate of 82%. Hope College has 2 areas of study related to Special Needs Teacher. They are:

  • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Emotional Disturbances, bachelor's degree which graduated 4 students in 2008.
  • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Specific Learning Disabilities, bachelor's degree.

Grand Valley State University - Allendale, MI

Grand Valley State University, 1 Campus Dr, Allendale, MI 49401-9403. Grand Valley State University is a large university located in Allendale, Michigan. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 23,932 students and an admission rate of 78%. Grand Valley State University has a master's degree program in Special Education and Teaching which graduated ninety-three students in 2008.

Cornerstone University - Grand Rapids, MI

Cornerstone University, 1001 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525-5897. Cornerstone University is a small university located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,759 students and an admission rate of 75%. Cornerstone University has a bachelor's degree program in Education/Teaching of Individuals with Specific Learning Disabilities which graduated eight students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Adapted Physical Educator: Persons who are eligible to become a CAPE fall into three categories; Recently graduated, qualified Physical Education Teachers; Professional Physical Educators (> 10 years full time experience); and Academics.

For more information, see the National Consortium on Physical Education and Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities website.

LICENSES

Teacher, Special Education

Licensing agency: Michigan Department of Education
Address: Office of Professional Preparation Services, Office of Special Education & Early Intervention, PO Box 30008, Lansing, MI 48909

Phone: (517) 373-0926
Website: Michigan Department of Education Office of Professional Preparation Services Office of Special Education & Early Intervention

LOCATION INFORMATION: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids, Michigan photo by Grguy2011

Grand Rapids is located in Kent County, Michigan. It has a population of over 193,396, which has shrunk by 2.2% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Grand Rapids, 81, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Grand Rapids cost $98,700 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, forty-three new homes were built in Grand Rapids, down from ninety-two the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Grand Rapids are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, transportation equipment, and educational services. The average travel time to work is about 19 minutes. More than 23.8% of Grand Rapids residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.0%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Grand Rapids is 15.4%, which is greater than Michigan's average of 14.3%.

The percentage of Grand Rapids residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 52.9%, is more than both the national and state average. Church of Jesus Christ, Immanuel Church and Trinity Church are among the churches located in Grand Rapids. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Christian Reformed Church in North America and the Reformed Church in America.

Grand Rapids is home to the Kent Country Club and the Walker Juvenile Court as well as Comstock Riverside Park and Richmond Park. Visitors to Grand Rapids can choose from Hampton Inn Grand Rapids, Hampton Inn Grand Rapids/North- Mi and Hampton Inn Fax for temporary stays in the area.