SUNY Cortland has been recognized by BestAccreditedColleges.org for its focus on special education, being named the third- best school in the United States on the organization’s list of “Best Bachelor’s In Special Education Degree Programs.”
The rankings website says that it uncovers the true value offered by schools by using criteria that go beyond the name recognition and prestige of higher education institutions. Among the traits that Better Accredited Colleges considers are accessibility, the quality of education, affordability and return on investment.
Associate professor Maria Timberlake, chair of the Foundations and Social Advocacy Department and director of SUNY Cortland’s Undergraduate Research Council, isn’t surprised by the national success of Cortland’s Inclusive Childhood Education program, which offers dual certification in childhood education and special education.
“The strength of our dual certification program (Inclusive Childhood Education) is reflected in our department name, Foundations and Social Advocacy,” Timberlake said. “FSA means that we teach disability as a natural part of being a human and prepare our students to understand that their classroom will be filled with a wide range of children with varying strengths and identities.”
The department also offers courses in multicultural and urban education, the role of gender in schooling and the relationship between schools and society.
Emma Trulock ’22, an inclusive childhood education major who is now a special education teacher at F.E. Smith Intermediate School in Cortland, N.Y., found the university to be highly effective in preparing her for her career.
“I think the emphasis on inclusion and having an inclusive mindset is a great part of the inclusive childhood education program that you don't see everywhere.”
Timberlake noted that there is always a comprehensive effort by the department to give its students an advantage in their future job search after graduation.
“We combine strong pedagogy with placements in local schools for hands-on experience, so our graduates are ready to teach in any New York school district.”