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Department of Educational Foundations & Special Education

College of Education

Educational Foundations & Special Education

Welcome to the Department of Educational Foundations and Special Education!


Welcome to the Educational Foundations and Special Education

         Jennifer Cook, Jim Fox, John Wheeler, Robert Miller, Scott Jenkinson, Angela Livingston, Sara Beth Hitt, Dawn Rowe, Pamela Mims, Cynthia Chambers, Jean Swindle, Arnold Nyarambi, Lori Marks, Alison Barton           Not pictured: Deborah Harley-McClaskey, Brent Leach, Cathy Galyon


The Department of Educational Foundations and Special Education has curriculum that supports studies in other departments, graduate and undergraduate degrees in Special Education, 2 minors, and 3 certificates.

Educational Foundations is a program that offers a minor in Leadership which is an interdisciplinary program that can work with any major and a new graduate certificate in Leadership.  Additionally, Educational Foundations offers courses on the graduate and undergraduate level that support other education programs in the Clemmer College.  Some of the topics include:

  • Philosophy in education
  • Educational research
  • Educational psychology
  • Current Educational Issues and Trends

Learn2Lead program aims  to equip students with the skills, knowledge, and abilities to maximize leadership potential in their personal and professional lives.The Learn2Lead program features two unique and innovative leadership preparation opportunities: an Interdisciplinary Minor in Leadership Studies for undergraduates and a Graduate Certificate in Community Leadership.

Special Education is a program that prepares future teachers to instruct students with unique learning needs and disabilities.This program meets the teacher licensure requirements in the state of Tennessee.


  • Bachelor of Science degree in Special education (SPED) leads to initial teaching license in special education. Special education licensure programs in Tennessee are non-categorical covering intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, orthopedic impairments and emotional disturbance. Students planning to teach in those states requiring categorical certification should meet with their advisor(s) to plan their programs according to the certification/licensure requirements of those states.
  • Minor in Special Education shows an employer that a student has an understanding of individuals of differing ability and evidence-based learning strategies that can benefit all students/clients. Minors are great for students who are majoring in such fields as: social work, psychology, physical therapy, or early childhood.


  • Special Education, M.Ed is for candidates seeking licensure in special education enroll in graduate coursework that prepares the candidate for initial teaching licensure in both K-12 Modified Special Education (mild disabilities) and K-12 Comprehensive Special Education (severe disabilities) OR PreK-3 Early Childhood Special Education.
  • Advanced Practitioner Concentration is for individuals who are not seeking special education licensure, but who are interested in obtaining an advanced degree in special education may elect to earn a master's degree through the Master of Education in Special Education degree, Advanced Practitioner Concentration.
  • Advanced Practitioner Concentration is for teachers who currently hold a valid Tennessee teaching license may add on an endorsement in the following areas
    • K-12 Modified Special Education (Mild Disabilities)
    • K-12 Comprehensive Special Education (Severe Disabilities)
    • Pre-K-3 Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE; infants  to children age 8 with disabilities, certification PreK- 8)
  • Post-baccalaureate Programs are provided for adding a special education endorsement to existing education licenses. Licensure areas in modified  (K-12), comprehensive  (K-12), and Early Childhood Special Education are available at this level.

Department Spotlight!


Dr. John Wheeler

Meet Dr. John Wheeler!

Dr. John Wheeler is currently Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations and Special Education at East Tennessee State University and Professor of Special Education. He earned his Ph.D. in Special Education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1989, since that time he has established himself as a university administrator, educator and applied researcher.  His research interests include designing instructional and behavioral supports for children with autism and their families.  His most recent research has been aimed at building capacity in underserved areas to address the expanded service delivery needs of children and families impacted by autism.  Additionally he has co-authored several textbooks in these areas as well as numerous research studies and international and national presentations.See Dr. Wheeler's new book!

He has had extensive administrative experiences as having served as both dean and associate dean in prior appointments and as principal investigator and director on numerous federal and state funded grant projects in excess of $6- million dollars in external funding over the past 28-years. See Dr. Wheeler's new book: Click here!






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