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To find a subject for his doctoral dissertation, Paul Tooker didn't need to look beyond his own classroom. The 34-year-old music teacher chose to study the special-education band he directs at Curtis High School on Staten Island in New York City.

His work with special-education students in a beginning band class provided him with all the resources he needed. Mr. Tooker videotaped 15 weeks of classes and used the help of experts in both music education and special education to analyze what happened in the class.

That research formed the basis of the dissertation he wrote to complete his doctoral work in education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Mr. Tooker has taught music at Curtis High for 11 years. He is also the school's coordinator of performing and visual arts.

He said last week that teaching students at all levels and skills has proved to him that, given some modifications in the curriculum, a band can help special-education students develop both musically and socially.

Those students--whether learning disabled or emotionally disturbed--start at the same level as his regular students in beginning band. After the first year, he added, at least one or two of his special-education students join the regular band, where, he said proudly, "they do very well."

This year, Mr. Tooker is working with 14 special-education students and is sharing his success by teaching workshops at music-educator conferences on "Instrumental Music for Special Learners."

Crystal Ellis, the Toledo, Ohio, schools superintendent, has announced his retirement. Mr. Ellis, who has been with the 38,000-student district since 1991, will step down in July. The district has not yet chosen a successor. ... The Tennessee school board has named Jerome V. Sailors its new executive director. Mr. Sailors has been the superintendent of 6,500-student Anderson County schools since 1989. He will replace C. Brent Poulton, who left in November to join the metropolitan Nashville public schools. Mr. Sailors will begin his new position in May. ... Dhyan Lal has been appointed as a state administrator for the financially troubled Compton, Calif., schools. He will replace Jerome Harris, whose contract ends this month. Mr. Lal is currently a deputy superintendent with the California education department.

--Adrienne D. Coles

Vol. 15, Issue 21

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