Southeastern, St. Charles Parish schools receive grant to prepare next generation of teachers
by: Tonya Lowentritt
HAMMOND –Southeastern Louisiana University's Department of Teaching and Learning, in a partnership with the St. Charles Parish Public School System, has been awarded a $120,000 grant from the Louisiana Department of Education to help redesign teacher preparation programs to give teacher candidates more time in the classroom.
One of only seven awarded this year by the Louisiana Department of Education, the pilot program called Believe and Prepare will give teacher candidates more opportunities to learn from seasoned educators in St. Charles Parish schools. The project will help guide future approaches the state can take in teacher preparation and development prior to education graduates entering the classroom as full-time employees.
"Aspiring educators need more time in schools teaching our kids, learning the craft through extensive practice and mentoring," said State Superintendent John White. "What's more, graduates should be able to demonstrate a positive impact on student achievement before entering the classroom as professional educators."
Cynthia Elliott, interim head of the Southeastern Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education, said the grant will be used to create full-year apprenticeships or residencies for teacher candidates who are interested in the option. Candidates who have met the rigorous selection criteria will begin working in July when St. Charles teachers return for professional development sessions and new teacher orientations.
Elliott said Southeastern is well-known for providing extensive field experiences during methods coursework and clinical experiences that make graduates among the most recruited teachers by area school districts.
"This is an additional option to prepare our graduates for the workforce as all of our teacher education graduates are real-world ready," Elliott said. "This option provides another opportunity for connecting theory-based academic coursework with school-based, authentic learning opportunities in the workforce.
"This collaborative effort has great potential to impact teaching and learning. We look forward to teaming with Southeastern to positively impact the student teaching experience through this full year apprenticeship model, said St. Charles Parish Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Tresa Weber.
"We are excited to be collaborating with St. Charles Parish School District through the Believe and Prepare Grant. This represents another opportunity to collaborate with outstanding educators in some of the state's best schools," Elliott said. "Our pilot program will also draw on the expertise of some of Louisiana's best mentor teachers to ensure future educators develop the skills they need to be successful in the workforce."
Believe and Prepare grant recipients began work on their programs in April and will continue through the 2014-15 school year.