Chapman University’s Attallah College of Educational Studies is proud to partner with the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) to launch the “Grow Your Own” Special Education Teacher Program. The initiative allows SAUSD classified employees to pursue a master’s degree and a teacher credential at Chapman University, with zero out-of-pocket cost*. 

“We are so very excited about this program and its potential to contribute to the critical need for special education teachers and for diversifying the teacher pipeline,” says Dean Roxanne Greitz Miller of Attallah College of Educational Studies. “This collaboration with SAUSD is a tremendous opportunity, and it is unlike any other university’s program in our area because the master’s degree – plus the special education teaching credential – is able to be earned at zero cost to the district classified employee.”

This program aims to prepare highly qualified teachers who started their professional careers at SAUSD as classified employees, in areas including instructional assistants or administrative support, and retain them in the district. Through this pathway, these classified employees for whom a master’s degree might have previously been financially out of reach can aspire to be a classroom teacher in special education.

“Our partnership with Chapman University provides our current classified employees with the opportunity to become teachers right here in the Santa Ana Unified School District at little to no cost. This allows us to grow our own teaching force using existing employees, many of whom live in and graduated from our schools themselves,” says Dr. Omar Ezzeldine, SAUSD Director of Classified Professional Development. “Chapman has provided our district with several high quality educators over the years and thanks to the support of grants from the California Student Aid Commission, California Department of Education, and Chapman’s generous scholarships, that number will continue to grow.”

About Chapman University’s Graduate Teacher Education Program: Special Education 

The combined Master of Arts in Special Education and Education Specialist Credential program aims to develop highly compassionate and collaborative professionals to work in inclusive communities. Students in this program learn to be effective communicators, informed decision-makers, advocates for students, mediators, leaders, and change agents.

How do I get started with SAUSD’s ‘Grow Your Own’ program?

  1. Contact Dr. Omar Ezzeldine, SAUSD Director of Classified Professional Development to share your interest in applying to the CU-GYO, the zero out-of-pocket cost* program at Chapman University. 
  2. Visit Chapman University’s Graduate Teacher Education program in Special Education site to learn more about the program.
  3. Apply now to join our Summer 2023 cohort. Be sure to check off the question about the SAUSD ‘Grow Your Own’ program on the admission application. Your application fee is covered by Chapman University, and the deadline to submit your application is February 1, 2023

Visit our site to learn more.


*Enrollment is limited and subject to remaining funds.