The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) announced recipients of $10.6 million in funding, which will aid Indiana’s schools and community partners in supporting local initiatives to attract and retain educators in school buildings across the state. The School of Education at the University of Indianapolis was selected as one of the IDOE’s partner institutions, receiving grant funds of just over $700,000. The launch of the Attract, Prepare, Retain grant is the latest initiative led by IDOE to support educator talent, quality and value, which is one of the department’s three strategic priorities.
Funding from the grant will allow UIndy to establish and expand upon the following goals:
- Grow dual credit offerings for students interested in teacher education.
The University will expand its dual credit education-specific offerings in local high schools. This expansion will then help the University identify high school juniors and seniors with an interest in pursuing a career in teaching. Those interested students will be invited to attend the Teacher Prep Academy and will receive more information about how to earn a degree in Education from UIndy.
- Provide a week-long summer Teacher Prep Academy on UIndy’s campus for high school juniors and seniors who aspire to become teacher educators.
The Teacher Prep Academy will provide opportunities for junior and senior high school students to become more engaged with the practice of teaching and have an opportunity to hear from prominent motivational speakers during the week such as professional athletes from the Indianapolis Colts and the Indiana Teacher of the Year.
- Develop a paid apprenticeship program where UIndy Teacher Education candidates will have the opportunity to return to their K-12 district to work as a paraprofessional while also completing their college field requirements.
The UIndy Teacher Apprenticeship program will be open to year two and year three pre-service teachers. Selected apprentices will return to their home school districts to work as instructional assistants, also known as paraprofessionals, while simultaneously completing required course field experiences to earn their degrees. This apprenticeship will not only give UIndy Education students the opportunity to experience real-world teaching scenarios, but will also allow them to give back to and strengthen their community.
- Establish a positive public image around Marion County’s teaching profession through an aggressive and strategic marketing campaign.
In order to achieve each of these goals, students need to be interested in and pursue the teaching profession. The University intends to work with their 11 partnering districts in Marion County and the surrounding areas to share the positive aspects of becoming a teacher. Realizing teacher’s perceived value of their service impacts their willingness to teach and their attitude towards teaching, the University beilieves it is imperative to share the true impact and benefits of serving as a K-12 educator with high school juniors, seniors, and their families.
Dr. Jean Lee, Director and Professor of the School of Education, is a Math Change Agent for Get the Facts Out, which is an NSF-funded partnership designed to help improve teacher recruitment and retention efforts, particularly in the STEM field. Dr. Lee has created Indiana-specific presentations that can be used as a base to develop the marketing plan.
“I want to thank the Indiana Department of Education for awarding us the attract, prepare and recruit funding,” said Dr. John Kuykendall, Dean and Associate Professor of the School of Education. “The grant will provide an extraordinary opportunity for the University of Indianapolis School of Education to attract talented high school students from the Indianapolis area for teacher preparation training. As a School of Education, our faculty, staff, and current students are well positioned to provide a transformative experience for our next generation of high-quality educators. In addition, we intend to use the funds to promote a positive narrative around the teaching profession, highlighting what a rewarding experience teaching can be for aspirants.”
“The funding from this grant provides the UIndy School of Education with the opportunity to build upon great work already happening in pockets or on a smaller scale,” shared Dr. Libby Turner, Director of Early Childhood and Elementary Education. “It also allow us to strengthen our K-12 partnerships as we collaboratively address the teacher shortage. There are so many benefits to being teacher like loan forgiveness, scholarships, retirement benefits, and of course a self-reported overall job satisfaction. If we can help high school students and families become better educated on the positive aspects of teaching, then we will be able to attract more people into the teaching profession.”
Dr. Turner explained that, “Another exciting aspect is our chance to help local school districts grow their own high school students into teachers that want to return to their home districts to educate future students. Teachers who return to their home districts offer a unique understanding of the district’s goals and local community. This knowledge serves as an asset allowing them to better address individual student needs and better prepare students for their future professions. By working with our partnering school districts to create the dual credit opportunities, the summer Teacher Prep Academy, and apprenticeship, we will build strong pipelines. This grant will have a positive, lasting impact on the local teaching community and future generations.”