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$5.6 Million Grant Supports Training for Rural Oklahoma Educators

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$5.6 Million Grant Supports Training for Rural Oklahoma Educators

Three women and one man standing together in front of a building smiling for the camera
(L to R) Kendra Williams-Diehm, Brittany Hott, Cian Brown, Christina Miller

by Chelsea Julian

University of Oklahoma researchers are developing a “Networked Community of Practice” in collaboration with dozens of education-focused organizations to train 64 school-based behavior analysts, counselors and social workers. The project is designed to address state-identified shortages of highly qualified mental health personnel in rural schools to fill gaps in school-based counseling, family support, academic support and connection to community resources.

The lead researcher for the project is Brittany L. Hott, Ph.D., BCBA-D, an associate professor of special education and associate director of OU’s Institute for Society and Community and Society Transformation. She said by increasing the number of homegrown educators, they are hoping to see decreases in suspensions and expulsions as well as other disciplinary actions while seeing increases in academic outcomes, specifically improvements in reading and mathematics performance.

“According to a recent report from the Rural School and Community Trust, Oklahoma’s rural schools have the fourth-highest educational need in our country. We are hoping this project will make a difference in not only the mental health of children and teachers but also their academic progress,” Hott said.

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