Students with special needs require teachers with special understanding to help them achieve their goals, and fostering that understanding has long been the focal point of College of Education faculty member Cecil Fore III’s wide-ranging career in the field of special education.
For the past few years, Fore has worked with local school systems and teachers in developing techniques to successfully include students with disabilities in general education classrooms. Colleagues and teachers call his techniques innovative.
“I go out and talk to principals, special education directors and teachers about their needs,” Fore said. “They want to know what to do with students with disabilities in their classroom, so I help them design different strategies.”
Fore’s research focuses on cognitive executive decision-making skills for persons with mild disabilities in relation to positive work outcomes. He also has researched issues in urban special education and the use of technology in the classroom.
A prolific researcher and writer, he has published 14 articles this year and is writing a book, Empirically-Based Instructional Strategies: Tactics in a Response to Intervention (RTI) Procedure. Fore also collaborates with colleagues in special education on Project WINning Ways in establishing professional development and training for regular classroom teachers on inclusion issues.
“I find a niche for organizing and getting things done,” said Fore, who hopes to move into administrative work in the future.
Growing up in a family of 15 children in tiny Pine Apple, Ala., Fore excelled academically and graduated salutatorian of his high school class before continuing his education at Alabama State University.
During a 17-year career in Alabama schools, he gained valuable experience as a special education teacher, special education supervisor, school psychologist and high school principal.
Fore has served as a graduate coordinator in special education at UGA for the past four years. He has a very personal connection to his work and is dedicated to helping the master’s and doctoral students he mentors to further their research and knowledge of the field. He talks proudly about recruiting the first African-American student to earn a doctorate in special education at UGA and joins other faculty members in addressing diversity issues.
Fore often seeks out grants to support students in their projects and strives to nurture an appreciation in his students of those with special needs.
“Students with disabilities are human, they have feelings, they can live a productive life, and we need to think outside the box and find ways to help them achieve their goals,” he said.
His years of working with students one-on-one in the classroom provide Fore with the background and experience to help teachers integrate that creative thinking into their lesson plans.
On one memorable occasion, Fore used inventive techniques to teach a student with special needs important job skills. Thanks to the extra assistance, the student obtained a job at a pipe-cutting plant, where today he is still employed as a highly successful foreman.
“That shows you that students with disabilities can succeed in life,” said Fore. “That’s what gives me fulfillment and satisfaction, to see that I have made a difference in the lives of students.”