Mercer Wins $9.6 Million Grant to Fight Retention and Diversification of Public School Teachers – Baptist News Global

Tift College of Education at Mercer University is embarking on a partnership with five Georgia school districts to strengthen teacher recruitment and workforce diversity with a $9.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

In announcing the project, the Macon, Georgia-based university said the award was the largest federal award ever received by its College of Education.

Loleta Sartin

“Education is the cornerstone on which to build hope and a future for future generations,” said Loleta Sartin, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Strategic Engagement and co-principal investigator of the grant. “Writing this grant was a labor of love with the primary goal of expanding and strengthening our support for Georgia schools by preparing more qualified and innovative educators.”

The project entitled “Georgia Educators Networking to Revolutionize and Transform Education” – or GENERATE – aims to strengthen the pool of teachers by developing a residency program for career changers to earn a Master of Fine Arts in the teaching, to help them obtain certification and then specialize in high-need areas, including IT.

The process includes paying candidates a $30,000 stipend while they pursue certification, engage in a one-year residency program, and complete their advanced degrees. Candidates will also receive three years of mentoring to boost their effectiveness in the classroom.

“Residents will participate in professional development focused on IT and cybersecurity training and testing certifications, holistic development, and educational retention for diverse communities,” the university explained.

“In addition to more than 170 careers changers who will participate in the residency program, professional development will also be offered to at least 400 mentor teachers and 120 undergraduate traditional education students from Mercer and Dalton State (College). GENERATE will impact over 92,000 P-12 students over a five-year period, which will have a profound effect on addressing the teacher shortage in the state.

Mercer also said he would continue the master of arts cohort program supported by cybersecurity and computer science mentors after the three-year grant program ends. “GENERATE will continue with an annual summit allowing residents and students to showcase what they’ve learned and discuss cutting-edge research with faculty and the wider educational community.

Mercer’s five partner school districts are Bibb, Clayton, Pike and Twiggs counties, as well as Dublin City Schools. Dalton State College is also a grant partner.

Morcrease Beasley

A partnership focused on Cultivating teacher pipelines is crucial given the challenges public education currently faces, said Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Morcease J. Beasley.

“Nationally, education has experienced a shortage of people aspiring to become teachers, and I believe this project is a much-needed step in the right direction to strengthen and diversify the talent pool. Our school system is proud to support this endeavor,” he said.

Dan Sims

Bibb County School District Superintendent Dan Sims said GENERATE will reinforce the district’s ongoing commitment to recruiting and retaining highly qualified and diverse teachers. “This will provide further means to ensure that our teachers represent the diversity of students we serve.”

The emphasis on IT will broaden the educational horizons of many students, Dublin City Schools engineering teacher Andrew Harvey said in an interview with Macon’s WMAZ-TV.

“A lot of kids don’t know what they don’t know, and if they don’t have experience or training, they miss a lot of their potential,” he said.

Tift College of Education Dean Thomas Koballa added in the TV report that the program will empower educators to become leading computer teachers. Mercer wants to “help them develop leadership skills so they can mentor other teachers as they begin to develop their interests and expertise in teaching computer science,” he said.

Thomas Koballa

The nearly $10 million federal grant follows a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation for Mercer’s College of Education to train computer master teachers in rural Georgia schools.

“Employment reports indicate thousands computer science vacancies in Georgia and many other vacancies that require the thinking skills taught in computer science courses,” Koballa said during the university’s April 11 announcement of the National Science Foundation award. . “Students attending rural schools in our state, especially members of underrepresented groups, do not have access to computer science education to prepare them for these positions compared to students attending urban schools. and suburban.”

The college will use funds from the National Science Foundation to provide participating educators with tuition and a stipend to complete a 14-month online specialized education program followed by online mini-courses in computer science, leadership assemblies and science system planning sessions.

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