January 14, 2022


by: admin


Tags: Doctoral, education, fund, grant, million, program, special


Categories: Special needs education

$3.7 Million Grant to Fund Particular Schooling Doctoral Program

Three faculty members from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Education, Health and Human Sciences — Tara Moore, Associate Professor of Special Education, Zoi Traga-Philippakos, Assistant Professor of Literacy, and Kristen Secora, Assistant Professor of Deaf and Special Education — will receive a grant of of $3.7 million from the US Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs to provide doctoral-level training to prospective researchers and educators of special education staff. Her project, Researching Interventions in Special Education (RISE) Scholars Network, is a collaboration between UT, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Texas A&M University.


Moore sought a career where she could connect and give back to her community after completing her undergraduate degree in sociology at UT. She moved back to her hometown of McMinnville, Tennessee and began working as a special education teacher in her home district. There she began her training as a state-certified special education teacher.

Moore was particularly interested in students who exhibited challenging behavior and learning disabilities. With funding from the same grant that now supports the RISE project, she continued her graduate studies at Vanderbilt University, where she learned more about serving and supporting these students.

“After completing my PhD, I was extremely fortunate to find a position at UT, a world-class teacher preparation university where I can continue to give back to communities, teachers and students in my home state,” said Moore. “I am very pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to our doctoral students here at UT.”

The RISE project will support 12 doctoral students at the three universities.

Zoi Traga-PhilippacusTraga Philippakos

Traga-Philippakos said: “I was contacted by a colleague at the University of Nebraska who was instrumental in coordinating the collaboration between the three universities. The goal was to submit a leadership grant in true collaboration with the other faculties and institutions.”

The program’s graduate students will build social and professional networks, learn from leaders in the field, and work together to design, implement, and evaluate interventions aimed at improving outcomes for students with disabilities and learning and behavioral difficulties. Scientists and lecturers have the opportunity to travel to the other partner universities in order to promote cross-university cooperation and networking.

The program aims to build a strong network of scholars, beginning with the first cohort, that will transform the field of preparatory training for special education teachers.

In addition to academic and professional support, RISE will provide financial support to doctoral students. Participating students can receive funding totaling over $230,000 for up to five years, covering tuition, medical insurance, travel expenses, dissertation assistance, technology needs, and an annual living stipend.

Ellen McIntyreMcIntyre

Ellen McIntyre, Dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, is excited about the launch of this groundbreaking project: “I am thrilled that we are able to provide scholarships for graduate students to receive the best possible education from this exceptional faculty members. You will prepare these new scholars with the best scholarship and a focus on the needs of children, teachers and schools in the future.”

“My first childhood dream was to become a scientist. I ended up in the field of special education quite by accident,” Moore said. “But the opportunity to complete my studies fully financed has not only changed my career but also changed my life in many ways.

“As a Special Education faculty member, my work now focuses on my interests and passions: I am a scientist, I am a teacher, I mentor students in conducting research, and I help prepare and support teachers to use effective approaches to understand the results of the improve students. I am very excited to pass this opportunity on to the next generation of special education leaders.”


Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375, lowen8@utk.edu)


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