The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Preparation (AACTE) has a long history of supporting teacher educator preparation. Each year, and since 1986, the national alliance bestows the David D. Imig award to a candidate or candidates who exemplify excellence in teacher education preparation. David Imig was the president and CEO of AACTE for more than 25 years.
This year, we are proud to report that AACTE awarded the David D. Imig award to Drs. Mary Brownell and Paul Sindelar. Their collaborative work on CEEDAR has followed a long series of projects that have made a significant impact on teachers and leaders nationwide during the past 25 years.
Twenty-five years ago, Drs. Brownell and Sindelar began working together on a project that helped teachers in a struggling school district in Florida. Then, they worked together at the Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education (COPSSE), which was a collaborative effort between UF, Vanderbilt, and Johns Hopkins. COPSSE used insights from research to address special education personnel issues.
The next big effort was the National Center to Inform Policy and Practice (NCIPP). This project equipped local and state entities with the tools to improve retention of special education teachers through the provision of support by recommending implementation strategies for proven practices in mentoring, induction, and collaborative teaching.
The work on NCIPP paved the way for the CEEDAR Center. CEEDAR carries with it similar ideology but on a much wider and deeper scale. Never before has the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) attempted something at the scale of the CEEDAR Center. That is why Dr. Brownell is happy that she received the award in conjunction with Dr. Sindelar for their work through CEEDAR.
Dr. Brownell acknowledges, “More than Paul and me as individuals, it’s important that we emphasize the importance of special education. It’s not just students with disabilities who benefit from our work—it’s all students. Our work is for any student who has ever had any trouble in the classroom.” About collaboration, she believes that “we don’t have a legacy as individuals.” Drs. Brownell and Sindelar have had a long history of working together to improve outcomes for students with disabilities through training quality teachers and leaders. Their work shows no signs of slowing down.
Dr. Brownell refers to CEEDAR team members as “problem solvers.” She always tells the team, “We don’t blame people; we solve problems.” This attitude has fostered a strong sense of purpose within the team. We look forward to the leadership Drs. Brownell and Sindelar offer as we develop the next generation of problem solvers who will fight for all students by improving the quality of teacher education programs.