SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Special education teachers are in short supply across South Dakota, but one local university is making it easier for teachers to get the education needed to fill those rolls.

The University of Sioux Falls offers online alternative certification coursework to help current teachers get certified in special education. Since the courses are taken online, teachers from across the state are able to easily access the program.

Special education has been something Stacy Adamson, a former health and PE teacher, has wanted to teach for years, but she wasn’t sure if she would be able to get certified or afford that process.

Now, through the USF special education certification program, she was able to easily become a special ed teacher at Harrisburg High School while finishing up the coursework.

“It just made it, made my decision so easy because they had it all laid out and I brought in my previous schooling and they told me what I still needed to do and I’m in my practicum now and about ready to be done and it’s just been a very easy transition for me,” said Adamson.

The program, which is a partnership between USF and the South Dakota Department of Education, includes 15 credits of coursework completely online.

“It allows for people across the state, in small districts, big districts, it doesn’t matter, if there are those openings that could be filled internally with folks that want to go into special education, then this program can help them,” said Kama Konda-Varilek, director of education graduate programs at USF.

School districts throughout the state, from Rapid City to Pierre, Aberdeen, Watertown and rural districts can equally access and benefit from this alternative certification route and the coursework offered through USF.

“It’s been very eye-opening, I love to help kids and it’s just helped me be myself and be able to help the kids the way I want to help the kids,” said Adamson.

Helping current teachers expand their knowledge and enter a new field of special education in their careers.

“We just had graduation this past weekend, and to see some of our kids walk across the stage was just it makes you tear up,” said Adamson.

Course work for the alternative certification in Special education endorsement begins on June 1. You can find the details here.