The MacMurray College Special Education Program is designed to provide you with training and preparation to become a teacher of students with exceptionalities, a teacher who matters. In addition to classroom instruction, the program emphasizes experience working in area schools with students who have special needs.
The courses you will take are designed to address needs and assessment of students with a variety of exceptional abilities. Special education teachers are also expected to have an understanding of all academic subject areas, so you will take courses to satisfy the expectations of your future school.
As a Special Education major at MacMurray, you will be taught by instructors with decades of experience teaching in special education classrooms in the schools and as administrators. This practical, in-the-classroom approach matters: it is designed to give you the skills you need to be prepared for a rewarding career as a special education teacher and administrator.
The MacMurray College Special Education Program will give you the opportunity to earn a Teacher Licensure for the State of Illinois in Special Education. Since Illinois has one of the more rigorous licensing requirements, the Illinois license transfers relatively easily to most other states.
At MacMurray, you will gain hands-on knowledge through field experiences embedded in program courses. Almost every course at MacMurray has field experience hours as part of the course.
You will observe and participate in classrooms in various school districts to develop the skills needed to be an effective teacher. Even before you begin your semester of student teaching, typically done as a senior, you will have already been in the schools 70–100 hours.
Placements include Jacksonville School District 117, as well as an alternative school in Jacksonville administered by the Four Rivers Special Education District.
You will also have the opportunity to join and attend meetings of the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC), an organization dedicated to improving the educational success of students with special needs.
Special education is a high-need area, and special education teachers are needed in districts across the nation.
Learn more about Special Education courses and how to pursue a degree in Special Education through our academic catalog.
SPED 223. Teaching in a Diverse Society: Education of the Exceptional Learner. (3) Introduces the educator to the needs and abilities of exceptional students, those with disabilities and those who are considered gifted. Emphasizes growth and development, etiology, learning, and behavioral characteristics of students who demonstrate a need for additional educational services in order to achieve their full potential. The historical, philosophical, and legal foundations underlying instructional programs and services to accommodate learners with diverse needs in the school and community are examined. Techniques for instruction, behavioral management and intervention, special education services, continuum of services, and current issues and trends in the field are analyzed. Prerequisite: EDUC 202.
SPED 244. Learning Characteristics of Individuals with Diverse Needs and Abilities. (3) Prepares the professional educator to approach the study of exceptionalities and individuals with exceptionalities in a systematic and reflective manner. Integrates historical foundations, theories, philosophies, and practices geared toward the education of individuals with diverse needs and abilities in a variety of multicultural settings. Prepares individuals to effectively meet educational, physical, social, and behavioral needs, as well as other learning difficulties encountered by learners with disabilities. Prerequisite: SPED 223.
SPED 310. Educational Design and Management in Diverse Classroom Settings. (3) This course is designed to develop the skills to structure a safe learning environment, establish healthy and culturally appropriate teacher-student relationships, encourage self-motivation for learning, and build successful classroom communities. Students develop a relevant classroom management plan that includes rules, procedures, expected behaviors, and uses problem solving strategies to resolve behavior problems. It introduces students to the tools necessary to conduct functional assessments and the tools to create functional based behavioral intervention plans. Prerequisites: EDUC 225 and SPED 223.
SPED 318. Collaboration and Conference Techniques for Special Educators in Schools, with Families, and in the Community. (3) Prepares the educator to analyze through foundational text, case studies, and community interaction the issues, research, implementation approaches, and recommended practices for employing collaborative models to support the learning of students with diverse needs and abilities. Strategies that facilitate the development of interactive teams, effective communication, conferencing with parents and other professionals, problem-solving strategies, co-teaching, and consultation will be explored. Prerequisite: SPED 223.
SPED 323. Diagnostics and Instruction in Special Education. (3) Introduces the educator to foundations of traditional and contemporary assessment approaches for the special needs population. Professional assessment standards, confidentiality, and bias are explored. Emphasis on technical skills and interpretation of individual and group test results, various methods of data recording, and report writing. Performance based, authentic, and portfolio assessments examined. Emphasis placed on current program monitoring and responsiveness to interventions. Current issues in the field are explored. Prerequisite: SPED 223. When offered online, permission of instructor also required.
SPED 326. Math Content and Methodology for the Diverse Learner, P-21. (3) Examination of the pedagogical mathematics content for P-12 students provides a foundation for understanding and implementing mathematics curricula in the pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Included are diagnostic and prescriptive teaching methods, materials, and evaluation of mathematics for diverse learners on all levels pre-school through grade 12. A field experience is required, preparing the preservice teacher for implementation of mathematics lesson plans which align to the CCSS. Prerequisite: MATH 121 with a C or better and SPED 223.
SPED 333. Medical and Health Issues and Technology in the Classroom. (3) Provides students with the knowledge and skills they need to provide an effective, safe, and accepting learning environment for children with a variety of health care needs. The course will include strategies for making individual student accommodations, coordinating specialized health care in the school, and recognizing student health problems. Medical terminology will be integrated throughout the course. Students will visit classes with children who have medical and health issues in order to observe the health care needs and special situations encountered by teachers. Prerequisite: SPED 223 and junior standing.
SPED 335. Transition in School, Work, and Community. (3) Prepares the special educators to develop the knowledge and skills needed to best prepare individuals with disabilities for their roles in their education, community, and adult life. Students will pursue this through current professional journals and literature and through field experience observational visits to community service providers and sites. Students will demonstrate competencies in such areas as knowledge of current legislation related to transition, understanding and identifying theoretical perspectives and conceptual models, collaboration, transitional planning, advocacy, quality of life issues, service provider options, family perspectives and issues, person-centered planning, vocational and career education, early intervention, self-determination, and best practices and current research-based approaches. Students will approach special education as a whole-life and whole-person field. Prerequisite: SPED 223.
SPED 340. Field Experience in Special Education. (3) Prepares the future special educator to observe instruction that implements appropriate curriculum content, adaptations and modifications, behavior management, and classroom technology. Provides the opportunity to reflect on classroom interactions and deepen understanding of the role of key stakeholders within the classroom setting. The student's performance in the classroom will demonstrate knowledge and skills from previous coursework. Students who do not receive a grade of B or higher must repeat the course and cannot continue to take upper-level education courses until they do so. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
SPED 344. Methods of Instruction for Learners with Diverse Needs and Abilities. (3) Methods of educating children and youth who demonstrate learning problems related to a diagnosis of disabilities and the need for special education. Includes teaching methods and strategies, making classroom and individual student accommodations, and review of commercial and teacher-made materials and pre-teaching experience in educational settings for students with learning disabilities. Prerequisites: SPED 244 and consent of the instructor.
SPED 350. Advanced Field Experience in Special Education. (3) Provides the student with direct experience in the classroom and in the education of learners with diverse needs and abilities. Provides the opportunity for observation in the school setting and interactions with professionals currently in the field. The student is responsible for the instructional needs of both small and large group activities and one-to-one educational experiences. Prepares the future special educator to design instruction that implements appropriate curriculum content, adaptations and modifications, behavior management, and classroom technology and to demonstrate the competencies of the Council for Exceptional Children for effective instructors of students with disabilities. Provides the opportunity to reflect on classroom interactions and deepen understanding of the role of key stakeholders within the classroom setting. The student's performance in the classroom will demonstrate knowledge and skills from previous coursework. Students who do not receive a grade of B or higher must repeat the course and cannot continue to take upper-level education courses until they do so. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
SPED 354. A Collaborative Approach to Curricular and Instructional Adaptations. (3) This course is designed to develop necessary skills of future special educators and future general educators to enable them to productively adapt curriculum and instruction to optimize the potential of all students with disabilities. Students will be introduced to the current best practices and research-based methodologies of curricular adaptations, including accommodations and modifications. Using a developmental sequence approach to diverse learners and their needs, students develop a broad view of interventions and innovative practices as they relate to curricular methods, materials, and media in a variety of learning environments. Students will demonstrate a critical approach to instruction as it impacts the life-long process of learning. This class incorporates collaboration, ethical practices, state standards, learning strategies, and individualized education as they apply to the academic, physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral needs of learners with diverse needs and abilities. Prerequisites: EDUC 225 and SPED 223.
SPED 360. Special Education Law and Process. (3) This class introduces the student to the laws, regulations, and key court cases that impact students with disabilities. It also introduces the student to the critical role of the special educator in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the individualized education program. Prerequisite: SPED 223.
SPED 390. Seminar in Special Education. (3) A study of the legal and ethical aspects of special education and services for individuals with disabilities. Translates theory into practice through student research and reflection about issues concerning learners with diverse needs and abilities in a variety of multicultural settings. Special educators must engage in a continuous process of critical and reflective analysis assessing current issues in the field such as, but not limited to, student programming and cultural perspectives, collaborative designs, philosophical differences, professional development, coordination and integration of theory and pedagogical practices, curriculum standards and instructional strategies, and ethical and professional practice. Prerequisite: junior standing in the division.
SPED 481. Clinical Practice in Special Education. (15) Provides the student with direct experience in the classroom. The student is responsible for assessing, planning, and implementing the instructional interventions for learners with diverse needs and abilities, monitoring and documenting student progress, as well as managing the day-to-day operational procedures for the classroom, eventually assuming all the duties of the mentoring teacher for the entire academic day. The student-teacher designs and implements both an interdisciplinary instructional unit plan and a case study incorporating a functional behavioral assessment and a behavioral intervention plan. Prepares the future special educator to design instruction that implements appropriate Common Core curriculum content, adaptations and modifications, behavior management, and classroom technology and to demonstrate the competencies of the Council for Exceptional Children for effective instructors of students with disabilities. The student's performance in the classroom will demonstrate knowledge and skills from previous coursework. Students who do not receive a grade of B or higher must repeat the course and cannot continue to take upper-level education courses until they do so. Prerequisite: senior standing, acceptance into the division, and completion of required coursework.
Assistant Professor of Elementary Education
"Be the change you want to see."
- Areas of interest: Johnson has a passion for the induction and mentoring of pre-service and beginning teachers as they enter the field of education. Her professional experience draws on her background in social work as she strives to improve the quality of education in urban and high needs schools by understanding the needs of the whole child. Johnson believes in stressing purposeful integration of technology into the classroom as well as collaboration and creativity. She also enjoys blending “STEM” content and literature to build cross-curricular learning.
- M.A. in Educational Technology – Concordia University Chicago
- Teaching Certification – Governor’s State University
- B.A. in Social Work – Bethany College
- Courses taught: Principles of Elementary Education; Math Methods for Diverse Learners-K12; Reading Methods and Reading Lab; Methods of Teaching Social Studies and Science in Elementary School; Technology and Instruction in Education.
Dr. Bradley Walkenhorst
Associate Professor of Special Education
"Give your whole heart to the students without ever asking for anything in return." – Lao Xing Zhi
- Areas of interest: Dr. Walkenhorst enjoys expanding his knowledge on instructional methods, needs of diverse learners and re-structuring education to meet the needs of all students. He also enjoys learning about Special Education and inclusion models on an international level.
- Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction – St. Louis University
- M.A.T. (Special Education) – Webster University
- B.A. in Liberal Studies – Thomas Edison State College
- Courses taught: Teaching in a Diverse Society: Education of the Exceptional Learner, Diagnostics and Instruction in Special Education, Field Experience in Special Education, Methods: Instruction for Students with Diverse Needs, Advanced Field Experience: Special Education, Clinical Experience in Special Education.