After helping identify a growing need for special education directors in K-12 schools, Dr. Steven Baule has met the demand head-on by creating a new graduate program at Winona State University.  

Baule, an associate professor in Leadership Education at Winona State, knew from his former 15 years’ experience as a superintendent that special education directors are particularly difficult positions to fill. 

“There just aren’t enough people out there who want to do the work or are properly certified to do it,” Baule said.  

With roughly 15 percent of students in K-12 classrooms have an identified special need, according to the Pew Research Center, children require additional resources to be successful in school.

Often, the key contact between students’ families and the school is a special education director. 

With a lack of directors in special education programs throughout the U.S., the available support and resources are not enough to meet the needs of children.  

That’s where Winona State’s new graduate program comes in.  

The online Director of Special Education graduate certificate is intended to not only address the current shallow hiring pool for special education directors, but also help graduates provide greater accessibility to children throughout school systems and entire districts. 

The program launched this Fall 2023 semester and is now accepting new students. Winona State’s Leadership Education Department recently received accreditation from the Minnesota Board of School Administrators (BOSA). 

To learn more about this new graduate program, read the Professor Pop-Up blog featuring Dr. Steven Baule at