RAMSES program to increase number of special education teachers through paid tuition, apprenticeships

RAMSES program to increase number of special education teachers through paid tuition, apprenticeships
May 15
22:14 2024

At a time where the need for special education teachers is at an all-time high, Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) is looking to make it easier for aspiring teachers who already have an undergraduate degree and current students at WSSU, to receive their master’s degree in teaching and the licensure required to teach in North Carolina. 

In 2023, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) awarded WSSU a $1.17 million grant and other funding over the next five years to recruit, prepare and support special education teachers. 

The by-product of that grant is WSSU’s RAMSES (Residency and Apprentice Model: Supporting Equity in Schools) program. The program, which combines rigorous coursework with hands-on experience, includes two alternative pathways for preparing special education teachers: The RAMSES N.C. Residency Pathway and the RAMSES 4 + 1 Apprenticeship Pathway. 

The N.C. Residency Pathway is open to teachers of record who hold a provisional license or those who hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, and who are committed to fulfill a service obligation following completion of the program. To be eligible for the 4+1 Apprenticeship Program, scholars must be a junior at WSSU, have a 2.75 GPA, commit to taking 18 credits of education courses and two MAT courses during undergrad, and commit to fulfilling a service obligation. 

Scholars enrolled in the RAMSES program will receive a range of benefits to help support their academic journey and professional growth. In addition to paid tuition, scholars will receive a stipend, membership in the Council of Exceptional Children with travel opportunities, access to small class sizes ensuring personal attention, a full-year apprenticeship in the classroom, on-campus seminars, ability to apply for emergency funds as needed, tutoring, technology support, and counseling services.

When discussing the program, Dr. April Whitehurst, special education coordinator at WSSU, said that this is the first time WSSU has received the Special Education Teacher Preparation Grant, and it’s rare that the grant is awarded to an HBCU. She said the grant takes away the financial burden and allows scholars to focus on earning their degree. “They can take courses without having to worry about the financial requirement and it allows us to provide some in-class mentoring and support,” she said. 

The ultimate goal of the RAMSES is to increase the number of special education teachers; however, the program is also looking to increase diversity in the classroom. “There’s a shortage of special education teachers, but there’s a huge shortage of Black and brown special education teachers. We hope this program can increase the numbers,” Whitehurst said.  

Founded as Slater Industrial Academy by Dr. Simon G. Atkins, and later renamed Winston-Salem Teachers College, Winston-Salem State University has a legacy of preparing teachers for the classroom. And Dr. Cynthia Williams Brown, WSSU interim associate dean for education, quality assurance, and community engagement, said the RAMSES program is the continuation of that legacy. 

“We work hard to prepare good teachers to go into the school system and to have this additional support to prepare more teachers is really exciting,” Brown said. 

Applications for the RAMSES Apprenticeship Program are now open. For more information and to apply, visit

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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