Sep 24, 2015

Grants to Develop Mentor Teachers, Create Year-Long Residencies, and Increase Number of Special Ed Teachers

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today announced the third and largest cohort of Believe and Prepare Educator Preparation grants totaling $2.85 million. The proposed grants, to be considered by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education during its October 13 meeting, will be awarded to 45 school districts and charter schools partnering with educator preparation programs around the state. These partnerships will build a statewide corps of over 500 mentor teachers who will work with teachers preparing for certification, grow the number of aspiring teachers in full-year residencies up to 1,000 for the 2016-2017 school year, and increase the number of special education teachers preparing to teach in Louisiana.

“By drawing on the state’s most successful teachers to serve as mentors and train aspiring teachers, tomorrow’s educators will be better prepared to enter the classroom ready teach from day one,” said State Superintendent John White. “Believe and Prepare is model program, forging beneficial educator preparation partnerships which ensure quality educators in Louisiana.”

Cohort 3 of the Believe and Prepare Educator Grants is made up of 32 separate pilot programs representing 33 school districts, 12 charter organizations, and 18 teacher preparation programs. Of these grantees, 16 school districts and five preparation programs are new to the Believe and Prepare grant program. Through this cohort alone, approximately 500 teacher candidates are estimated to enter year-long residencies during the 2016-2017 school year and more than 500 mentor teachers will be identified and trained this school year to support those residents. Grant recipients will collaborate with cohorts 1 and 2 to develop tools, resources, and guides enabling the success of new partnerships. Through this third round of Believe and Prepare grants, the Department will make awards of up to $200,000 per partnership to develop programs to strengthen Louisiana’s teacher workforce. These grants will be funded through Title I School Improvement 1003a funds and IDEA funds. The third cohort of grant recipients will operate from October 2015 through September 2016.

Xavier University has partnered with McDonough #42 School and InspireNOLA Charter Schools to select and train highly-effective mentors to support teacher candidates completing Xavier’s newly designed undergraduate residency program. This year, the program will serve 20 teacher candidates.

Eight central Louisiana school districts (Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Concordia, Catahoula, Evangeline, Grant, and Rapides) are partnering with Louisiana State University at Alexandria to prepare special education teachers through coursework and mentoring by highly-effective special education teachers. They have projected to impact 60 total participants: 20 certified special education teachers will be trained to mentor, 20 paraprofessionals will be trained alongside the mentors, and 20 teachers seeking mild/moderate certification. LSU-A will also develop teacher preparation programs for teachers of students with significant disabilities and adaptive physical education.

Celerity Schools of Louisiana and City Year of Baton Rouge are teaming up with Southern University’s program to include a year-long residency tailored to teachers in urban settings targeting local talent. They are anticipating the capacity to produce 20-40 teachers annually by 2017.

“Calcasieu Parish’s partnership with McNeese State University will strengthen the recruitment and retention of new teachers and increase skills for mentors, leaders, and university instructors, resulting in higher learning gains for all of our students,” said Calcasieu Parish School Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus. “The funding will enable our partnership to design and deliver a one-year school-based undergraduate apprenticeship for aspiring teachers. The partnership will train 25 mentor teachers and host 20 teacher candidates this year.”

“The Believe and Prepare partnership between LSU’s GeauxTeach English and the East Baton Rouge Parish School System will establish a pipeline of excellent and committed educators from LSU to local public schools,” said Sue Weinstein, Ph.D., LSU GeauxTeach English. “Our two-year residency model will prepare our students for the demands of their first years of teaching by pairing them with highly-effective mentor teachers in local classrooms at the start of the public school year – some three weeks earlier than LSU’s start. The program aims to prepare 60 undergraduate candidates annually and 40 highly effective mentor teachers.”

Currently, 21 school systems in cohorts 1 and 2 are working to prepare 224 teacher candidates for the classroom through Believe and Prepare grants.

Recruiting and training the next generation of teachers is a school system’s first step to ensure new teachers are classroom ready, every classroom is staffed by an effective teacher, and all students are on a successful path to college and career. Identifying exceptional teachers to train aspiring teachers is one of the most important parts of that plan.

Over the last year, the Department awarded two rounds of Believe and Prepare grants totaling nearly $1.4 million to school systems and preparation programs partnering to implement innovative models for teacher training. Through the Believe and Prepare, a total of 35 school systems and 19 preparation providers have developed partnerships to achieve this vision. These pilot programs have focused on:

  • Providing aspiring teachers with more time to practice through successful apprenticeships and residencies,
  • Recruiting mentor teachers who have achieved exceptional results with all students,
  • Developing practical, skills-based coursework, and
  • Meeting schools’ staffing needs through strategic recruitment and preparation.

To see the list of Believe and Prepare Cohort 3 Pilots, click here.

For more information on Believe and Prepare, please click here.

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