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Bethany College and MCCSEC Launch Innovative Scholarship Program to Address Special Education Teacher Shortage


By Bethany College


LINDSBORG, Kan. (MAY 29, 2024) — In partnership with the McPherson County Special Education Cooperative (MCCSEC), Bethany College is excited to announce the launch of the Pathway to SPED scholarship program. This initiative addresses the critical shortage of special education teachers in McPherson County by providing substantial support and guaranteed employment opportunities to local students pursuing careers in this field.

The Pathway to SPED scholarship program offers $5,000 annually to each selected student. The program includes financial assistance, paraprofessional positions during college, and guaranteed teaching positions in McPherson County upon graduation. This comprehensive approach encourages students to enter the special education profession and remain within their local communities, strengthening the local educational workforce.

Gannon Mosher, a junior from Chapman, KS, and Ashlon Stanford, a senior from McPherson, KS, are the first recipients of this scholarship. Both are currently enrolled at Bethany College, pursuing elementary education degrees with special education endorsements.

The McPherson County Special Education Cooperative oversees special education across several school districts, including Smoky Valley, McPherson, Canton-Galva, Inman, and Moundridge. The partnership with Bethany College is a strategic response to the urgent need for special education teachers, highlighted by the Kansas State Department of Education’s report of 418 vacant special education teaching positions in 2023.

Alan English, Education Department Chair at Bethany College, expressed his enthusiasm for the program: “The Pathway to SPED program between the McPherson Special Education County Cooperative and Bethany is among the most proactive, forward-thinking initiatives I’ve seen to address the local shortage in special education. I couldn’t be more excited to help fill a vital need for our local school districts!”

Megan Ladenburger, Assistant Director of Special Education, added: “Given the shortage of special education teachers across the country, we knew that we had to think outside of the box to problem-solve within our area. There is something to be said about the opportunity to ‘grow your own,’ so what better way to do that than to provide our own McPherson County students with this amazing opportunity? The partnership built between Bethany College Teacher Education Department and the McPherson County Special Education Cooperative is going to allow some of our very own students across the county to not only get a college degree at a very low rate but also to secure a job within their community and be able to give back to their own.”

Gannon Mosher, one of the scholarship recipients, shared his excitement: “I am thrilled to be honored with the Pathway to Special Education Scholarship from the McPherson County Special Education Cooperative. This opportunity allows me to stay in a community I deeply care about while pursuing my passion for special education, inspired by my experiences as a volunteer Special Olympics coach and my mother’s dedication as a special education teacher.”

Ashlon Stanford, the other scholarship recipient, echoed this sentiment: “I am honored to receive the Pathway to Special Education Scholarship from the McPherson Coop. This scholarship allows me to stay in McPherson, where I developed my passion for special education in high school and supports my goal of becoming a special education teacher. I am grateful for this opportunity to continue my education and career in a community I love.”

The Pathway to SPED program will expand in the coming years to include more students, particularly high school seniors in McPherson County, interested in pursuing careers in special education. This initiative will significantly enhance the local education landscape, providing vital opportunities for students and addressing the region’s critical shortage of special education teachers.

Bethany College and MCCSEC’s collaborative effort underscores their commitment to community-driven solutions and educational excellence. By investing in local talent, they ensure a brighter future for students and the broader community.

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop, and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning, and service. At Bethany, students join a community of dedicated educators and caring mentors who walk alongside them as they discover, explore, and navigate the path to their purpose. Bethany College is online at and is located in Lindsborg, Kansas, the fine arts and crafts capital of the state.