UMO to Offer Special Education Program Starting Fall 2014

MOUNT OLIVE – Beginning fall 2014, students at the University of Mount Olive will have yet another major to choose from – special education.  According to Dr. Tommy Benson, division chair for Arts and Education, the University chose to add a special education program because school systems across North Carolina are seeking certified exceptional children teachers.

“Conversations with local school system administrators revealed a desire that the University explore the possibility of offering certification in special education,” Benson said.  “Job opportunities abound, but even more importantly, the needs of these children need to be addressed by competent, trained professionals who understand the special needs exhibited by this population.”

The key components of the K-12 licensure program include basic general education and professional studies requirements, coursework in content disciplines of English/reading, math, science, social studies, and special education.  Special education courses will include:  Introduction to Exceptional Children, Assessment and Evaluation, Teaching in an Inclusive Classroom, and Classroom Management and Organization.  Also, as with all of the education programs at the University of Mount Olive, students are required to do field experiences as freshmen through their student teaching experience.

Benson shared the mission of the teacher education program at UMO, “Our mission is to transform education (and thereby lives) by preparing and producing education professionals knowledgeable of the content they teach, skilled in pedagogy, and passionate about teaching all students.  In collaboration with the educational community, teacher education is committed to providing a rigorous, coherent, and relevant curriculum; developing students into proficient teachers and supporting their efforts to become skilled professionals who strive to meet the diverse needs of 21stcentury students and schools in our global society.  Throughout the program, the curriculum balances college coursework with classroom experiences, reflective thinking, integrating theory and practice and maximizing learning opportunities.”

Graduates of the program could seek jobs as teachers, diagnosticians, clinical support personnel, consultants for IEP development and implementation, homebound instructors, and other support personnel for exceptional programs.

Benson added, “This is yet another way that the University can respond to its surrounding communities.  Exceptional needs students are an underserved population and parents and school systems want people to work with their students who have a passion for these children and who are well-versed in best practice.”

For more information, contact Dr. Benson at

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College. For more information, visit