Succeed and Beyond
The Impact of Inclusive Education
April Regester’s journey to associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educator Preparation and Leadership began with an inclusive high school education in California. Her secondary school employed a model that paired students with intellectual and developmental disabilities with students without disabilities. Regester was one of the students in this program. The experience was so impactful she went on to obtain her master’s and a doctorate in special education and spent a year in a post-doctoral fellowship at the Eli & Edythe L. Broad Asperger Research Center at the Koegel Autism Center.
Regester’s research trajectory has shifted over the course of her career. It began with an emphasis on social supports and barriers for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, specifically autism, at high schools and grade schools. Then adapted to focus on the impact peer support groups have on both students with disabilities and those without. In her experience, the benefits of mutual exchange are tremendous and long-lasting and provide positive outcomes for all involved.
Her work and dedication have already left a mark at UMSL. In 2013, with a team of other UMSL and community collaborators, she helped found the Succeed program — a post-secondary program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities who throughout the course of the two-year program earn a Chancellor’s Certificate. At the time of its creation, the program was only the second of its kind in Missouri and received funding from three regional boards. Within the program, Regester was able to apply her research and practices from her experience with K-12 students to those at the university level. Being able to focus on developing and instituting support and best practices for students with disabilities as they transition into college and as they exit has been very rewarding. It’s now an area of emphasis Regester has settled into for her long-term research goals.
Equally yoked with that research is Regester’s goal to provide inclusive educational opportunities for teacher candidates. In the College of Education’s teacher preparation program, she researches and applies best practices in preparing future teachers, specifically when it comes to serving students with disabilities. But utilizing a unified program (versus a siloed one), most teacher candidates at UMSL learn how to best support students with disabilities. By giving teachers the tools and techniques they need to succeed, they in turn can ensure successful outcomes for every student, no matter their abilities.
You can find out more about Regester’s current funded work with the Department of Education here or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.