Alum's Gift to Provide Scholarships for Students in Special Education Teacher Prep Program

Elliott Jaffa Headshot

Elliott Jaffa ’65, A.G.S ’68, Ed.D. ’73 knows first-hand the challenges and joys of working with students with learning differences. As a behavioral specialist for over 40 years, Jaffa has worked with students with different abilities throughout his career. 

To encourage and foster future generations of special education teachers, Jaffa has committed to giving $133,000 to establish two merit-based scholarships for undergraduate students in the University of Maryland College of Education Special Education Teacher Preparation program. Scholarship recipients must demonstrate leadership and innovation in the field of special education. 

“Special education teachers work with students who have a physical or intellectual disability or an emotional and behavioral disorder, and they bring a unique set of skills and instructional practices to their classrooms,” he said. “The work is sometimes hard and I’d like to support these students in their academic pursuits. There is a continued need for qualified special education teachers in Maryland and across the country.” 

Jaffa credits Maryland for preparing him to enter and remain in the field. He took every behavioral psychology course available through the college, studying under professors like George Marx, head of the department of counseling and personnel services, and Lewis Gollub, professor of experimental psychology department. 

In 2020, he participated in a Zoom call to hear a handful of students speak about their work and studies. There was one young woman, a freshman, who blew me away,” he said. “She projected more confidence and articulated her goals significantly better than any of the other participants.” He suggested to a friend who is the head of a Maryland private school that the student be hired as a summer teacher with the standard staff salary. 

Fifty years later, he continues to be impressed by how prepared—and not only willing, but eager—Maryland’s special education teaching students are to make a difference.