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UC Program Results in New Credentials for Tristate Teacher

This summer, Donna Gallenstein is one of 45 students completing a one-year UC program aimed at easing the critical shortage of special education teachers.

Date: 7/7/2006
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Andrew Higley
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Donna Gallenstein
Donna Gallenstein

Donna Gallenstein of Loveland was at the top of her career when she reached a major crossroads. After working in the business sector for 18 years – making it to sales director and vice president of a top national company – the working mother of two had to make a choice in 1997. The company was closing its Cincinnati office, so she’d either need to transfer and move or find another career. She chose to stay in Cincinnati, and since she already had a journalism degree, she thought becoming an English teacher would make a great second career. Gallenstein earned her master’s degree in secondary education from the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, and has worked as a teacher for six years, most recently as an Advanced Placement English teacher at Colerain High School.

But as a teacher and a mom, Donna saw the pain of the students who were struggling. She had worked one-on-one with her own son as he grappled with ADHD (becoming a successful learner and graduating from college), and says she got a special satisfaction out of working with children assigned to Individual Education Programs, or IEPs.

It was that fulfillment that led her to a new milestone at UC this summer. Gallenstein is among 45 teachers to complete a one-year program to certify previously licensed teachers for special education, plus, she’s one of 25 students who received full tuition for the program through a $200,000 grant awarded to UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) from the Ohio Department of Education. The program addresses critical shortages of teachers specifically prepared to work with children who have mild or moderate disabilities in K-12 classrooms.

“I had actually thought about getting the certification before, but thought it would be too overwhelming right now,” she says, “but then when I saw the announcement that teachers were being recruited for this particular program, I felt it was what I was meant to do.

“I notice that most of the students I see on IEPs really do want to learn, and they’re frustrated about where they are,” she says. “I want to help them become successful.”

The 36 credit-hour program started last September. During fall and winter quarters through the 2005-2006 academic year, the students took one distance learning class and a course that required meeting once a week at Mayerson Academy. During spring quarter, they took two online courses and fulfilled an internship requirement in their own classrooms, under the guidance of a UC mentor and supervisor. Their preparation this summer involved taking a series of classes during two 10-day sessions at Raymond Walters College as well as two courses online.

“It has been a very intensive year, particularly this summer,” says Gallenstein, as she balanced her job, her schooling, her family and applying for National Board certification, a “voluntary, advanced teaching credential that goes beyond state licensure,” according to the National Education Association.

Gallenstein adds that the UC program has led to a new teaching position. She says she’ll begin working as an intervention specialist at Mason High School this fall.
A reception for the teachers will be held from 3-4 p.m. Tuesday, July 11, in the Science and Allied Health Building at UC’s Raymond Walters College in Blue Ash. Meanwhile, Anne Bauer, UC professor of teacher education and principal investigator of the grant, says the success of the program has resulted in renewal of a $200,000 Ohio Department of Education grant to prepare an additional 25 licensed teachers who will begin the program at UC this fall. Bauer says the funding pays full tuition for 25 previously licensed teachers who want to become intervention specialists.

UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services has a few spaces remaining for the program that begins this fall. For additional information on this program as well as full-time and part-time online programs for licensure in special education, contact Anne Bauer at 513-556-4537 or e-mail

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