A group of graduate students from the University of Guam (UOG) was in Palau to share classroom curricula that they developed with teachers and parents of students with disabilities.

In a press release, the graduate students partnered with the Belau Head Start program by providing Head Start teachers with six different curricula, each modified for specific disabilities.

While the other three students provided parents of children with disabilities three different learning curricula to supplement what the children learn in the classroom.

The Belau Headstart program like all Head Start and Early Head Start programs in the US, provides a multitude of services – education, social services, health, nutrition, and parent involvement.  –

The program also supports the early childhood education of low-income children and children with disabilities. The program has 21 teachers and 17 assistant teachers and serves 350 children but needed help with the limited resources and supplies to make adaptations and modifications to their curriculum for children with disabilities.

This was a first-time achievement for the UOG School of Education Special Education program. It yielded positive results for both the graduate students and the partnering program of Palau,” said UOG Assistant Professor Suzanne Bells, who led the cohort said in the press release.

The graduate students were in Palau from   Sept. 27 to Oct. 1 and presented their capstone research project — “Building Bridges for Our Island Students” — to educators and parents in Palau. The project included research topic presentations, distribution of materials, including classroom supplies and USB drives, and participant assessments by UOG Professor Velma Sablan and Assistant Professors Catherine Cardenas and Jacquelyn Cyrus.

“The UOG School of Education graduate students wanted to bridge the gap across the Marianas and Micronesia. They wanted to provide professional development for teachers and families to ensure that children with disabilities receive the education they deserve,” Bells said.

“While they don’t have many resources, they still do what they need to do to educate their students. I come back here and look what we have. We have more. The takeaway is that I need to reevaluate myself as a teacher. If they can do it with less, I can do it as well,” he said.

Bells said the capstone project gave the students real-life experiences that will be valuable in properly recognizing and supporting their special education students.

“These are certified teachers in the program gaining advanced knowledge and applications in the field of special education to advance their careers,” she said.

The graduate students will receive their master’s degrees in special education at the Fanuchånan 2018 commencement.   (Bernadette Carreon)