Meet Dr. Steven Baule, an associate professor in the Leadership Education Department at Winona State University. 

He helped identify a growing need for special education directors in K-12 schools around the nation—and created a new program at Winona State to meet this demand head-on.

Professional headshot of Dr. Steven Baule.

Who Is Dr. Steven Baule?

After serving as a superintendent for 15 years and retiring from K-12 education, Dr. Steven Baule returned to the classroom as a professor because he believes education is our future.

To Dr. Baule, public education is one of the only things that unite us and hold all of us together as a society.

He is now a full-time professor and the chair of Winona State’s Leadership Education Department.

Fun Facts

After high school, Dr. Baule:

  • joined the Army,
  • became a firefighter, and
  • earned a music performance college scholarship.

Why Did He Create a New Special Education Graduate Program?

Dr. Baule knew from his extensive professional experience 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 adds.

He then met with the advisory committee for the Education Leadership licensing programs, and the committee agreed that the hiring pool for special education directors was shallow. 

With the Leadership Education Department’s recent accreditation from the Minnesota Board of School Administrators (BOSA), the committee also agreed it was an opportune time to develop a new program.

“Creating a new program at the university level is not a simple task. There are a lot of processes to go through. But it was pretty straightforward because it’s definitely a position that’s high-need,” Baule says.

What Is the Value of This New Program?

Roughly 15% of students in K-12 classrooms have an identified special need, and those children need additional resources.

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

Dr. Baule says there’s an increased understanding in today’s schools to provide accessibility. Accessibility is a framework with two core themes: all students can learn, and all students have the resources they need to learn effectively.

The Director of Special Education graduate certificate improves the world by:

  1. preparing future school- or district-wide leaders to manage special education programs in K-12 schools and provide quality resources to students with special needs.
  2. helping Winona State students gain Minnesota licensure as a director of special education, making them competitive job candidates immediately upon graduation. 
  3. being entirely online, making it accessible to aspiring school leaders across the region.