Learning Disabilities Summer Institute: Strategic and Explicit Instruction Certificate

All classes take place on the St. Paul campus, and clinical experience is offered onsite at Visitation Catholic School, 2455 Visitation Dr., Mendota Heights, MN 55120.

Date & Time:

Monday, June 11, 2018
8:00 AM - 5:00 AM
June 11-July 21, 2018


University of St. Thomas
2115 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105

Join an upcoming online information session to learn more.

Learning Disability courses explore:

  • Orton-Gillingham-based and multisensory approaches to reading, writing, spelling and math instruction.
  • Evidence-based learning strategies focused on writing, study skills, reading comprehension and futures planning (University of Kansas Strategic Instruction Model).
  • Identification criteria for LD, the revised state SLD Manual, and application to case study students.
  • Application of evidence-based strategies with students onsite at Visitation Catholic School throughout the 6-week experience.
  • Administering, monitoring and evaluating ongoing assessments; designing individual and small-group instruction; and providing ongoing feedback regarding student performance.

Courses Offered

SPED 705: Advanced Basic Skills Instruction: Learning Disabilities, 3 credits (Mondays and Wednesdays, June 11-July 21, 1-4:15 p.m., St. Paul Campus)

SPED 788: Instructional Strategies: Mild/Moderate Disabilities, 3 credits (Tuesdays and Thursdays, June 11-July 21, 1-4:15 p.m., St. Paul Campus)

SPED 790: Clinical Practice: Learning Disabilities, 2 credits (Monday-Friday, June 11-July 21, 8 a.m.-noon, Visitation School). Open to SPED teachers adding an additional license in Learning Disabilities or General Education teachers earning the Strategic and Explicit Instruction Certificate.

SPED 792: Clinical Practice Seminar: Strategic and Explicit Instruction, 1 credit (Fridays, June 22-July 20, 1-3 p.m., Visitation School). Taken concurrently with the Clinical Practice and required for all students completing SPED 790. Open to SPED teachers adding an additional license in Learning Disabilities or General Education teachers earning the Strategic and Explicit Instruction Certificate.

How to Use These Courses

  • Enroll in all 4 courses to earn your LD license in one summer if you already possess a SPED license in another field.
  • Enroll in SPED 705 and SPED 788 if you're a current St. Thomas SPED student earning your first license in LD. (Note: You will complete a 3-credit clinical during the academic year to complete the license.)
  • Enroll in SPED 705 and SPED 788 if you're interested in learning a variety of evidence-based instructional strategies for all struggling learners.
  • Enroll in all 4 courses to earn 9 of the required 12 credits for the Strategic and Explicit Instruction Model certificate. This is a great option for teachers who already possess an existing general education license.
  • To complete the Strategic and Explicit Instruction Model certificate, SPED 750 Intro to Exceptionalities must be taken or an alternate 3-credit course if you've already taken a basic survey course in special education.

How to register:

If you are not a current student at the University of St. Thomas, apply now so that you can register when registration opens in April 2018. Registration for these courses has filled in the past, so register early to secure a spot. You can select to apply as a non-degree, certificate, or licensure student.

Students currently enrolled at the University of St. Thomas can register for these courses beginning April 2018.

Financial Aid

Merit-based scholarships are available for students pursuing their M.A. degree or first special education licensure. If you've already received a degree or license from the University of St. Thomas, you may qualify for a 15% alumni discount. Learn more about financial aid

About the Instructors

Gwen Berry 

Gwen Berry, Ph.D., received her doctorate at the University of Kansas and has served as a special education faculty member for 15 years, focusing on learning strategies and evidence-based practices for students with learning disabilities. She has worked in 18 different states as a professional developer and instructional coach in the Srategic Instruction Model and adolescent literacy, and currently serves on the SIM leadership team for the state of Minnesota.

Mary Kirchoff 

Mary Kirchoff, M.S., currently serves as the Director of Learning Support Services at The Blake School, and previously taught special education at Visitation Catholic School. She has served as an adjunct faculty member for more than 10 years, and has taught graduate classes in both special education and general education.‌‌ 

Deb Shepley, M.S., is the Strategic Instruction Model (SIM) Network Coordinator for the state of Minnesota, a member of the Minnesota SIM Leadership team, and university supervisor for Minnesota State University Mankato. Deb taught middle school special education for 16 years in Kansas and Minnesota where she received three master teacher and excellence in education awards. She also serves as an instructional coach and professional developer and recently worked with St. Paul teachers in the Fusion Reading Program.

Program Questions

Todd Busch, Associate Professor | (651) 962-4461

All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.