Iowa Board of Regents

Innovative program at UNI leads to dozens of new elementary educators

More than 60 new educators are ready to launch their own elementary school classrooms for the first time, thanks to an innovative new program at the University of Northern Iowa. This group of teachers are the first graduates of the Purple Pathway for Paraeducators program, which launched in 2022 to provide practicing paraeducators a pathway for earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

“This program involved a large amount of work, across multiple departments at the University of Northern Iowa. Thanks to this program, we now have 62 new elementary educators ready to lead their own classrooms,” said Colleen Mulholland, dean of UNI’s College of Education.  

The first cohort of the Purple Pathway for Paraeducators completed its student teaching experiences this spring and graduated in May. All the graduating members of this first cohort are eligible for licensure in Iowa for two endorsements: elementary K-6 and strategist I, the special education endorsement for working with students with mild to moderate special needs. Paraeducators from across the state participated in the program while continuing their positions as teaching assistants in various Iowa K-6 classrooms.

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