Enhancing the Future of Education Through $5 Million Grant

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.

Southeastern Professor Selected for Louisiana Writer Award

Southeastern Assistant Professor of Creative Writing David Armand has been selected as the recipient of the 23rd annual Louisiana Writer Award by the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library. The award is given to a contemporary Louisiana author in recognition of an outstanding contribution to Louisiana’s literary and intellectual life exemplified by the writer’s body of work.

“Professor Armand is a truly gifted writer and teacher. He is skilled in a variety of genres, and communicates his love of words to all of his students,” said College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Karen Fontenot. “We are so lucky to have him at Southeastern, and I’m thrilled that he has received this honor.”

A native of Folsom and resident of Hammond with both undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from Southeastern, Armand has published four novels, The Pugilist’s Wife, Harlow, The Gorge, and The Lord’s Acre, all set in Louisiana; two poetry chapbooks, The Deep Woods and Debt; a full-length poetry collection, The Evangelist, soon to be released; and a memoir, My Mother’s House. Armand is also the author of an upcoming collection of creative nonfiction essays, Mirrors, to be published by University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press in spring 2023.

Armand served as Writer-in-Residence at Southeastern from 2017-2019 and has been recognized as a Gambit Magazine “40 Under 40” recipient.

In 2016 he was honored with Southeastern’s President’s Award for Artistic Activity, the Southeastern Faculty Senate President’s Award, and was named the St. Tammany President’s Artist of the Year. His first novel, The Pugilist’s Wife, earned the George Garrett Fiction Prize, and his second novel, Harlow, was listed on Amazon’s best novels about dysfunctional families.

“I’ve been so deeply honored to not only receive this award for my work, but also by the tremendous amount of support and kindness from the people in the Southeastern community, as well as throughout the state and beyond,” Armand said. “I know that my getting this award has been possible, in very large part, because of that spirit of kindness and generosity for which this state is so well-known. And I only hope my work can shine a bright light on that for more people to see.”

The Louisiana Writer Award will be presented to Armand at an opening ceremony of the Louisiana Book Festival on Saturday, Oct. 29, in Baton Rouge.

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

Southeastern’s College of Business is launching its second cohort of the Hispanic Leadership Program as part of the celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month and the university’s commitment to cultural diversity and the professional development of the Hispanic population. The cohort includes 52 students from high schools in Tangipahoa and Livingston parishes.

According to the Pew Hispanic Institute, the U.S. Hispanic population reached 62.1 million in 2020, an increase of 23 percent over the previous decade that outpaced the nation’s 7 percent overall population growth. The share of U.S. Hispanics with college experience has increased since 2010. About 42 percent of U.S. Hispanic adults ages 25 and older had at least some college experience in 2019. Overall, the share of Hispanics with a bachelor’s degree or more education increased from 13 percent to 18 percent during this period.

The HLP’s purpose is to identify Hispanic youth with potential for education at the postsecondary level and to give them the skills and motivation necessary to be successful as leaders and in life. The HLP program provides opportunities for Hispanic youth to grow professionally, strengthens each student’s skills, and prepares them to contribute significantly to the workforce.

“We are proud of the impact of this program. It provides a culture that supports the students’ unique heritage while building skills and a network to help them be successful in the workforce and/or university,” said Tará Lopez, dean of the College of Business.

Director of the Southeastern Livingston Center Krystal Hardison said, “With this program, we will provide Hispanic/Latino students with real-world learning experiences, interactions, and opportunities.”

For over 24 years, Southeastern has worked with the Latin American community through the Latin American Business and Development Initiative.

“Every year, Southeastern’s Latin American Business and Development Initiative joins the celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month as a symbol of respect for Hispanic culture and diversity,” said LABDI Director Aristides Baraya. “Through this program and others, we show an appreciation of the value of the Hispanic culture by creating programs that help the progress of this community.”

National Hispanic Heritage Month originated in 1968 when Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to issue an annual proclamation designating National Hispanic Heritage Week. Twenty years after Johnson’s proclamation, President Ronald Reagan extended the recognition to the Hispanic community for one month.

Hispanic Heritage Month is dedicated to celebrating the culture and traditions of the Hispanic community and paying tribute to the significant contribution made by people of Hispanic descent, not only in the fields of culture, education, and arts, but also business and science in the U.S.

New Southeastern License Plate

A new vanity license plate featuring Southeastern’s spirit graphic and bold, updated colors is now available.

Following the release of the University’s new logos last year and reimagined branding this fall, the Southeastern license plate’s rejuvenated look provides an enhanced way for members of the Southeastern community to show off their Lion Pride, whether on campus or afar.

The plate, designed by Southeastern’s Office of University Marketing and Communications, also provides an easy way for alumni, students, employees, and friends to be an advocate for the University wherever the road takes them.

Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the license plates goes directly to strengthening student educational opportunities and success. For each plate sold, $25 is channeled from the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles into a University fund. Money from this fund is used to directly support student scholarships. This helps students stay on their chosen paths to success and complete their degrees with needed financial support.

The Southeastern license plate is available through the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles: expresslane.org/vehicles/plates/.