Special Education Majors In High Demand

"It takes passion and heart and the right person because it can be challenging"

Professors at both Augustana and USF say there is a big need for students pursuing the career of special education both on the state and national level.

However, getting the degree typically requires students to double major in both elementary education and special education, meaning it requires more time and more money.

But someone who already has her degrees says it is well worth the extra work.

Like most college students, Julie Large wasn’t sure what career she wanted to take on. 

“But as I explored the special education classes at the University of South Dakota I was like oh my gosh, this is where I feel like I’m home,” says Special Education teacher at Hawthorne Elementary Julie Large. 

Fast forward 20 years later, Mrs. Large is still teaching in the field. 

“It takes passion and heart and the right person because it can be challenging,” says Mrs. Large, including helping students who may have ADD, ADHD or social disabilities. 

“We also see the externalizing problems, their outbursts,” adds Mrs. Large. 

To help, the Sioux Falls school board voted Monday night to update the district policy on corporal punishment. Under the revised policy, staff will be allowed to use physical force as a last resort. 

“It’s very hard to be in a position to have to restrain a 7-year-old because that’s traumatic for that child, it’s traumatic for that classroom and that’s traumatic for the professional staff,” says Mrs. Large. 

But she explains that if she can’t get a student to deescalate or calm down, she can’t help them learn reading, writing or math.

And while this may be challenging, Mrs. Large says she would encourage anyone to go into the field. 

“I can think of so many children that have graduated out of special education and they’re reading at grade level and they said they would never ever be able to read,” says Mrs. Large. “That is the most rewarding.”

Dr. Laurie Daily says those that do graduate with a special education major at Augustana University typically find a job right away due to the limited number of people in the job pool.