Southeastern’s College of Education has received a five-year $5 million federal grant to strengthen the recruitment and preparation of new teachers, including increasing the number of teachers from underrepresented populations. The project is titled Building Rigorous Induction and Development for Growing all Educators or BRIDGE.
“By partnering with school districts, the BRIDGE project will support beginning teachers beyond graduation,” said College of Education Dean Paula Summers Calderon. “In doing so, we will help districts retain qualified teachers beyond the three to five-year lifespan of a new teacher.”
The Teacher Quality Partnership grant funds a partnership between Southeastern and selected district partners. The project will begin by engaging partners in the Tangipahoa Parish School System in the second year of the grant. The St. Charles Parish School System will be added in the third year of the grant, and a third district will be selected to join the project in year four.
Principal investigators Calderon and Cherissa L. Vitter will work closely with the school districts to recruit teacher candidates from underrepresented populations and to provide support to ensure their persistence through the program, resulting in classroom retention. The project will focus on the preparation of teachers in the shortage areas aligned with the current needs of the districts to reduce both out-of-field and uncertified teaching.
Calderon said the project will result in the preparation and induction of 375 more effectively trained, highly supported, and diverse new teachers over five years and increase the instructional leadership skills and knowledge of 150 mentor teachers who will support them.
“We are excited to work with the university and district partners to train mentor teachers as part of the solution for retaining and developing new teachers,” said NIET CEO Joshua Barnett. “Teacher leadership is a proven strategy for retaining and developing effective teachers by providing timely, relevant, and actionable support for their continued growth and improvement.”
Training for mentor teachers will increase the number of teachers prepared for leadership roles in their schools as they become available, expanding their impact to more students and teachers over the long term.
“We are committed to helping every student to excel,” said Superintendent of Tangipahoa School System Melissa Stilley. “The ability of our district to hire effective teachers and school leaders is highly dependent on the skills of teacher and school leader candidates. We are excited to partner with Southeastern and NIET to support our teachers in continuing to improve their classroom practices and better support student success.”
“This partnership will create high expectations for new teachers and support for teacher candidates in a yearlong residency,” said Superintendent of St. Charles Parish Public Schools Ken Oertling. “This will be followed by induction support in their first years of teaching.”
Combined these strategies will provide high-quality support for aspiring teachers that bridges their preparation program and their first two years in the classroom.
The BRIDGE project will address these challenges by enhancing Southeastern’s teacher preparation program, recruiting a more diverse cadre of new teachers, and creating induction programs in partner districts to support novice teachers to be more effective earlier in their careers.