Skip to Content

Normandale SpedUp Program addresses shortages in Special Education teachers

Normandale Community College is working to help address shortages in the special education workforce with SpedUp, a program that recruits and supports BIPOC students as they pursue their first two years of a special education degree.

The program was started in fall 2022, and has quickly grown to 23 students representing three different cohorts as of the 2023 fall semester.

Saturday, December 2, 2023, marks National Special Education Day commemorating the signing of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Shortages of special education teachers are at a dire level in Minnesota and across the country, and the number of special education teachers of color are especially problematic.

The Star Tribune's article "Minnesota Needs More Teachers of Color" features the critical need for special education teachers of color. Normandale Community College's SpedUP program aims to address the shortage of teachers of color. This program provides opportunities for people of color who are passionate about teaching students with disabilities.

SpedUP offers academic scholarship, cohort model, and professional development activities. Special education teachers are essential, in demand, and can experience rewarding careers that open doors to personal and professional growth. 

“The importance of being a part of SpedUP is bigger than me,” said SpedUp student Leticia Alvarez. “I have the opportunity to inspire youth to go to college! Also, as I witness and learn more in-depth about the disparities among students of color in schools and the importance of teachers of color, I get to walk in my purpose and show students of color that they have the opportunity to contribute to changing the future of classrooms and education.”          

Applications for the Fall 2024 cohort opens on January 1, 2024.  Find and complete the SpedUP application on the Normandale SpedUp Program webpage. For additional information and questions, please contact Kenny Chan at

Normandale alumnus Kenny Chan was named the program coordinator this past summer. Chan has over 15 years of experience in the field of Special Education. Chan was previously the Director of Special Education at Yinghua Academy in Minneapolis where he was previously a Special Education Coordinator and Teacher. He was also a Special Education Teacher at Emmet D. Williams Elementary School in Roseville, Minn.

“We are excited about the opportunity the SpedUp program provides to remove barriers for people of color who are passionate about going into special education,” said Chan. “This program has a great opportunity to play an important role in diversifying the next generation of special education teachers in Minnesota.

Chan is very familiar with Normandale’s Education program having graduated with an associate degree from Normandale in Education before getting his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Teaching at Minnesota State University, Mankato through Normandale’s on-campus partnership program. Chan also has a master’s degree in Special Education, Learning Disabilities and Emotional Behavior Disorder from Augsburg University and a Special Education Administrative Licensure from Hamline University.

“We are very proud to have an incredible Education program at Normandale,” said Normandale Community College President Joyce Ester. “The SpedUp program is a great example of working with the college’s strengths to help address a need across the state for special education teachers. We are excited to work with our K-12 and four-year partners to support and create a pathway that will produce a diverse group of amazing future educators who will transform the lives of the students they teach.”

upper arrowtop