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Stephen W. Tonelson, professor of early childhood and special education at Old Dominion University, has been appointed to the Norfolk School Board to
fill the seat vacated by Teresa Whibley, who left the post to take a seat on the Norfolk City Council. Whibley is also connected to the university, having earned her master's degree in education from ODU in 1974.

Tonelson serves as the director of ODU's Commonwealth Special Education Endorsement program (CSEEP). Funded through a grant from the Virginia Department of Education, the CSEEP program allows those already teaching special education in public schools to take a condensed, distance-learning course for just $100 per class.

"Teachers stay in place, teaching, while becoming significantly more effective," said Tonelson. "It overcomes being geographically and financially bound while providing the same course work, knowledge and skills obtained in traditional programs."

Since its inception in 1998, the program has resulted in 800 fully accredited special education teachers in the public school systems where before they were working on minimal knowledge of special needs under provisional/temporary licenses.

Tonelson has taught at ODU since 1981 and, at one time, worked as a third-grade teacher in Virginia Beach. He has two daughters. He holds a bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary, a master's from ODU and a doctorate from the University of Virginia.

Tonelson's father, Rufus Tonelson, is a former ODU student, teacher and administrator, and was the principal of Norfolk's Maury High School in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

This article was posted on: June 28, 2006

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