Teacher Education

Educating the Future, Today: How to Use Emergency Relief Funds for Educator Preparation

A webinar featuring a panel of teacher prep professionals

A panel of teacher prep professionals discusses how the state of Tennessee effectively used ESSER funds, and how ALL teacher prep programs can effectively use emergency relief funds.

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Hillary Gamblin:

Hello. Welcome to today’s discussion about emergency relief funds and using them in teacher prep. My name’s Hillary Gamblin. I’m a GoReact employee and the host of the teacher education podcast. We’re elated that you’re joining us today. It’s been of a bit of a hectic year, just a little. And so when GoReact and AACT met together to brainstorm ideas for this workshop, we thought of about the billions of dollars that Congress has set aside for ESSER funds. And because it’s been chaotic and the landscape is continually changing, allocating those funds can be particularly tricky. So we put experts together today for a panel, and they’re going to share their experiences about using emergency relief funds. And we’re hoping that you’ll leave this workshop with at least one new idea for allocating those funds, or at least leave with more confidence of how you’ve planned, decided to use your ESSER funds. In a minute, I’m going to pass things off to a moderator from AACTE Dr. Jacqueline Rodriguez.

Hillary Gamblin:

But before we do that, let me explain how we’ve structured this virtual event. So for the first 30 minutes or so, Jackie is going to introduce our panel and start asking them questions and get a stimulating discussion going on. And after that, she will lead a live Q&A. So if you like to submit a question for the Q&A, there is a tab just below the video feed. And if you see a question that someone else has asked that you want answered as well, there is a really handy up vote feature. And then also don’t forget the chat feature, which is on the right side of the video feed. This is where the party happens. This is where people share resources, give their contact information so they can meet up afterwards. So don’t miss out. And then finally, before I pass things off to Jackie, we’re going to do a polling question. And so right next to that ask a question is a polling feature and we’d like to ask the following question and you’ll see it on your screens. How much of your ESSER funds has your teacher prep program spent? A, most of it, B, half of it, C, a little, and then D, we have it spent to dime. So as you’re answering that polling question, I’m going to hand things off to our moderator Dr. Rodriguez.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

Hi everyone. Thank you, Hillary. We are thrilled to be with you today. Hopefully those of you on the Pacific time zone right now, you’re enjoying a good cup of coffee and just jumping into your Wednesday. Those of us in the Midwest and Eastern time zones have been at work for a little while, but you’re taking a reprieve right now to learn with our expert panel as Hillary mentioned, and to take some deliverables back to either your districts or your local education agencies, maybe even your state education agency. So we’re excited to engage in this conversation. I am joined by four of my fantastic colleagues. I’m going to introduce each of them first. And then as I introduce them, they’ll give you a big wave and we’ll talk through their actual presentations in just a moment. So with that in mind, I would love to introduce you first to Mike Rose.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

Michael Rose is on the AACTE government relations team. He serves as a senior director of federal relations and policy. He comes to the role with over 20 years of experience as a government relations professional who’s worked with members of Congress and non and profit organizations. And I’m happy to say that he leads the [govarol 00:03:22] work on behalf of the association. I’m also joined by David Donaldson. He is the chief of human capital at the Tennessee Department of Education. Just a small gig. David is a previous teacher, previous principal, and his work focuses on ensuring profession ready educators are in every single classroom. I am joined now with two of my colleagues from Austin Peay State University. Dr. Prentice Chandler is the Dean and professor of the Erickson College of Education in Austin Peay State. Along with authoring about 50 works, Dr. Chandler received a state and national ward for his work as a high school history teacher.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

I’m also joined by Dr. Lisa Barron, who is a professor and the associate Dean and the director of teacher education and partnerships in the Erickson College of Education at Austin P. She earned her national board certification, yes, and spent 16 years as an elementary school teacher, an assistant principal and a curriculum coach. So as you can imagine, we are here with not only people who are excited to share with you how you too can model a program as they have so far, but also can share tons and tons of professional experience with you. So before we begin with the questions and introductions run presenting on the model that we are going to be talking through today, I get to tell you about our poll results. It turns out we have a bit of a split. We have about 50% of you spent very little of your ESSER funding and the other 50%, haven’t spent a dime. So this is the perfect workshop for you to be participating in. I’m really excited you self-selected to be here with us.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

So with that in mind, let’s begin first with a few minutes from each of our panelists who are going to discuss with you their lens, what do they bring to this table with regard to ESSER funding and how it can be utilized within school and university partnerships. I’d love to throw it over to my colleague Mike Rose first, and he’s going to introduce the ESSER funding toolkit I believe.

Michael Rose:

Thanks Jackie, appreciate it. I have a couple slides I want to walk through. So in March, president Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan, which provided billions of dollars to state and localities for recovery from COVID and to help reestablish a somewhat normalcy in our lives again. The bill included $122 billion for what is called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund, which is usually shortened down to ARP ESSER for simplicity. About 90% of the $122 billion went to local education associations or agencies, excuse me. And they are intended to help the schools reopen, buying personal protective equipment, cleaning products, equipment for social distancing, all the stuff that is necessary to have students return to the classroom safely. And importantly, ESSER funds can be used to hire, recruit, and retain quality staff during the pandemic. And so when we saw that language in the American Rescue Plan, we thought that it would be a good idea to help our members reach out to their local education agencies to partner together to address the pipeline and get student teachers into the classrooms to help with the transition back to school, as well as to help and provide some support to teachers that were already in the classroom.

Michael Rose:

And the next slide, please. And so we wanted to establish that collaboration and establish partnership for a couple different reasons. One, the student teachers really need to get the real experience in the classrooms so they can get certified and get into the classrooms once they graduate. But also we wanted to structure it this way because in 2008 in the last recession, a lot of school districts hired staff to help plug the holes. And unfortunately when the money ran out, they had to have a number of layoffs. And so we felt by having student teachers come into the classrooms, you’re giving them practical experience without actually having them on the payroll and having to commit to all the related issues of hiring an individual. I think it’s important to note that this funding, the $122 billion that’s available is available through 2024. So it gives you an opportunity to plan and implement these programs over the next couple years.

Michael Rose:

And AACT has developed a toolkit for all of you to take a look at which I just put in the chat, which hopefully you’ll get. And it really provides you with the background of our ESSER funds, where they came from, what they can be used for as well as other resources that you could utilize to stand up your own projects and programs. So happy to answer any questions about that program either when the Q&A comes around, or my email is actually included in the toolkit so you can email me directly and we can help answer any questions that you might have. So back to you, Jackie.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

Thanks, Mike. I am happy to also show you a quick image of the toolkit that AACTE produced. As Mike mentioned, it can be downloaded on our website. It’s a PDF that is also embedded on the page. So you can share that PDF with your colleagues. And finally, I would also suggest that if this is something that you actually know you’re doing already and you wouldn’t mind being a partner in this work, we would love to highlight your institution or your district who are using ESSER funding in the toolkit. It’s a living, breathing document that we add to iteratively. So let us know. Again as Mike mentioned, his emails in the document and on the website. If you’d like to be put into the toolkit, we’d be happy to do that for you. So I’m going to ask my colleague, David Donaldson at the Tennessee Department of Education to jump in and talk to us a bit about the model that you all are going to hear about in a moment and why the Tennessee Department of Education put all of its energy and enthusiasm behind this model. So David, off to you.

David Donaldson:

Sure. Well, thank you, Jackie. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me. Good morning and good afternoon to everybody watching in. First, let me just say to Dr. To Rodriguez and to Michael Rose. Thank you so much to AACT for having us on here today. And I can’t speak to a better national organization that has been a partner and advocate for this type of work that will has had and will continue to have a dramatic impact on the children, not just in Tennessee, but throughout of the country. Also, let me say, and I know they’ll be introducing themselves later, I am so privileged to be partnering with my dear colleagues, Dean Chandler and Dr. Barron at Austin Peay State University. They have been incredible partners in this work. And so what is the work that I am talking about? Well, the work starts actually with Austin Peay in a district known as Clarksville, Montgomery.

David Donaldson:

I came to Tennessee about two and a half years ago and saw something that just I hadn’t seen anywhere else. And that was an incredible partnership between a district and a university net prep partner that was doing some of the most remarkable work that I have seen in my time in education. And so in addition to being a teacher and principal, I’ve also had the privilege of serving as the head of HR in two different districts before coming into a role like this. And so this is exactly the type of innovative work that I wish I was doing when I was a district HR director. And so to see it happening here, and I encourage all state education agencies to look at what is already happening in your state and find ways to leverage and put it on a higher platform. And so again, what this work is I keep building it up, just Grow Your Own work.

David Donaldson:

And we have certain requirements from a state level and folks can tweak things, but our minimum requirements and I want to start with minimum when I say this is that we are ensuring that if in Tennessee, if you want to become a teacher, you can become one for free and get paid to do so. On top of that, Tennessee currently it takes 15 weeks is the requirement for a clinical internship. We’re saying, if this is a bachelor’s degree, Grow Your Own program, we’re talking a minimum of two years for clinical internship experience. Within those two years, you’re also getting two years under a mentor. I mean, mentorship the research on that is incredible. In addition, you will graduate dual cert in a subject of your choosing as well as either special education or ESL. When we look at the vacancies in the state of Tennessee, over 20% of vacancies are in special ed and ESL.

David Donaldson:

And even if you are not going to be a special ed teacher of record, there is very good research that shows it actually leads to higher retention by having those skills and tools in your toolkit. And then finally, one thing that it’s not part of a minimum requirement but it is something that we include in our application that gets bonus for points, every single winner of Grow Your Own grants have made a commitment to selecting candidates that are more diverse than the current teacher workforce within their district. And so we serve 147 districts. And what diversity looks like in Shelby County, which is where Memphis is may look different than in other parts of the state. And so we are about continuous improvement in how we recruit and retain educators and how we have more and more folks being able to fill special ed and ESL position, continuous improvement in our clinical practice as well as in mentorship. And I’m sure there’s things I’ve missed, but I know there’s plenty of other follow up questions later. And so, again, we’re really proud of the work we’re doing here, but the work started by identifying a local best practice and then just elevating it. And I do want to thank specifically the commissioner of education of Tennessee, commissioner Penny Schwinn and governor Bill Lee for making a commitment to the Grow Your Own work and our legislature in the state of Tennessee. So thank you.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

Thanks, David. I also want to throw out a thank you to everyone involved in this work in Tennessee. As a special educator, I’m thrilled to hear that candidates are moving into a program where they have the skillset necessary to teach all learners. So that’s very, very exciting. So those of you in the audience, what you’ve heard so far is that ESSER funding is available. So far we haven’t seen all of it committed. And in this case, the state of Tennessee has committed a lot of that funding to these Grow Your Own programs. And we’re going to now drill into the local level to talk about a specific model that you might be able to duplicate or replicate in your own context. And I’d love to have that shared with my colleagues Dean Chandler and associate Dean Barron. And I’m going to share my screens that they can throw up some slides. Okay.

 Prentice Chandler:

All right. Great to see everybody today. I hope every is staying healthy. I also want to do a round of thank yous to AACTE and GoReact for an invitation to share our work. I can’t say enough good things about the Tennessee Department of Education, and yes, it is a strange thing for an education Dean to give kudos to the state department. Yeah, you heard that right. The Tennessee Department of Ed does many, many, many things right and of course, David Donaldson is at the front of all of that. So huge thanks to David and his team. And of course, a huge thanks to CMCSS, our partner district which we’ll be talking about soon. So when I became the Dean back in 2017, there were a couple of things that were pretty clear from very first meetings with our school partners.

 Prentice Chandler:

The very first thing was that it was clear that we were not on the same page and that we could use a reboot, which again is not uncommon for EVPs in their local school districts. We wanted the same thing, but we were working at cross purposes many times. Secondly, and this came to me after a series of meetings, not after our first meeting, but after a series of meetings it became really clear to me that our strategic goals were exactly the same. That is to say that the local school district and our college of ed literally wanted the same things. And those were to stem the teacher shortage to recruit diverse candidates and to prepare more teachers in high needs areas like special education and math. And so I coined the phrase that I’ve used over and over and over, we were on the same team and just we didn’t really know it.

 Prentice Chandler:

The Clarksville Montgomery county school system is our primary partner at Austin Peay. We are very fortunate to have them as a partner because they are open to doing things in innovative ways. They have tons of talent in the district, talented teachers, talented leaders. And as a Dean of a college of education, I couldn’t ask for a better group of folks to work with. As you can see from the slide, CMCSS is a rather large district for Tennessee, but they are faced with many of the same challenges that districts across the country face, primarily lack of diversity in the teaching force. And like I said before, more recently a teacher shortage. A major focus in our college is increasing the number of ethnically diverse teachers in our schools. And of course, it’s very a basic graph here shows that we have some work to do. That work is carried on through our grow own programs, which Dr. Barron will talk about now.

Lisa Barron:

Hi everybody. And so David talked about some of the non-negotiables and some of those are included in this slide. And one, it had to be cost free to our residents and that included tuition for every semester, all books and any related course fees. When we first got together and started thinking about this program, we didn’t have the benefit of knowing we were going to be receiving funds for this. And so it was quite a challenge when we were first in those discussions, like how in the world can we pull this off? But the need was so great and our passion was so great for this to work, that we were just going to launch into knowing that we could do it working together. Secondly, the residents are hired as full-time paraprofessionals working in the district alongside master teachers, and this included a layer of supports for the residents.

Lisa Barron:

And so when we talk about gaining teachers in the field, then these are different teachers that are going to be first year teachers as opposed to our student teachers. These teachers have been in the field working with students alongside master teachers for sometimes as many as three years, and sometimes more if they were already paraprofessionals. And third, it had to be an accelerated program. Three years is what we were shooting for because the teacher shortage is a current challenge so we didn’t have the luxury of delaying for a typical four year program. So that involved innovative course delivery on the part of the university. It also involved a large commitment for their residents because they were working full-time plus taking full-time loads as college students and some of them first time college students. And then as the word got out about our program, a lot of our partnering districts also wanted to participate. I have smaller districts, as you know, are facing the same challenges regarding teacher shortages and diversity, but they face these challenges sometimes with fewer resources.

Lisa Barron:

So with the additional funding that we were given, then we were able to expand this model to surrounding districts. And our expectation is that it will continue to grow and expand. And you see on the slide just some of the impact that we’re having in our area districts, our local districts. And let me say too, one of the benefits of a Grow Your Own program is that our districts are seeing that the residents that they are recruiting into their cohort, not only are diverse because they represent the students in their district, but they are going to stay in that district. They’re not going be pulled away to another school district that perhaps is offering more money or more benefits, they’re raising their families there, they’ve bought homes in the district. So the Grow Your Own has a real impact of not only impacting the teacher shortage now, but in the future.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

As you all can see, there is a reason we want to highlight this particular model at this particular institution, because not only is there longevity with the cohorts, but also there’s a deep investment from the institution in the district. And so all of the partnerships that you’re hearing about those relationships took time, and I’m hoping that we can dig into some of that relationship building with you all in the future. I’m going to also ask those of you who are listening and in the audience to start throwing your interests and your questions to the chat box. We are going to engage first with some chat with our panelists, and then I’m going to ask that you all lead the conversation for the latter half of the webinar and the workshop. So please do reach out with questions that you have specific to different people on the panel. So I’d love to first start with Mike. As you were thinking about the toolkit at the global macro level, right? We know that there are examples of other programs in the toolkit, variety of preparation programs that are partnering with the district or with the state to use the funding. Could you talk to us about a couple of perhaps those examples that are already in the toolkit or those that are making their way into the toolkit. How are they using the funding beyond Grow Your Own, for example?

Michael Rose:

Sure. So when we started work on the toolkit, we tried to get a diverse set of school examples or university to show readers of the toolkit. So we looked at geographically and subject matter areas and all the rest of it. So we really did try and pull from all over the country. And there’s seven examples in the toolkit already. And as Jackie alluded to earlier, we’d love to add more universities to that list and show off their great work. I believe the one up in Michigan does special education is really focused on that. Some of the other ones at west are more generalized, but we really want to make sure that all different types of programs are highlighted so that you don’t have to recreate the wheel. You can just go out, talk to them, partner with them, learn how they did it and set up your own program.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

If I recall correctly, Mike, some of the toolkit examples also include partnerships around teacher quality partnership grants, so grants that are federally driven as well, but they’re there in district and EPP relationship building with this intention of residency work. So that was really exciting that there are other models out there from which people can borrow some of the information. And I also want to call out the attention of those examples in that those contact individuals have already told us that they’d be very willing to share documentation. We know how difficult it is when you want to reach out to a district and perhaps there is a new staff, and you’re not sure who to reach out to first. Well, these districts and these EVPs have had that same experience and they’re willing to share our articulation agreements, two plus twos, MOU, et cetera. So if there are examples or institutions near you in the toolkit that you want to be in connection with, please definitely reach out. So I’m going to shift the conversation to a degree back to David. I am very interested in hearing a bit more about the successes that you’ve seen at the state department with the Grow Your Own programs. Obviously we’re highlighting one of the premier programs, I think, within the state. But as I know and recall, you were working with over 60 districts, is that right?

David Donaldson:

Yes, that is correct. It sounds really good now, but it took us a while to get there. And so as mentioned, yeah, there was one partnership with Austin Peay and Clarksville Montgomery, and then it became the little engine that could. And we took Austin Peay and Clarksville Montgomery on a roadshow. We actually had them present at the Tennessee superintendents annual conference. We then also posted EPP had to come to the department. And we also hosted districts and we did multiple open houses to explain the work that needs to go into this. And I think this is an example too, of the state leading from behind while we actually have. At the end of the day, it’s going to be EPPs and districts have to implement it so they wanted to hear from their colleagues. And so we ended up launching a Grow Your Own 1.0, and when that occurred, we ended up with seven EPPs and about 37 districts and that was a $2 million investment.

David Donaldson:

And today after Grow Your Own round two, that is correct, we’re now at over 60 districts. I believe we’re at 63 districts, we have 14 EPPs and we have over 650 individuals who will become a teacher for free while getting paid to do so. And we’re really, really excited to see that positive momentum and hit that tipping point where we have public universities, we have HBCUs, we have private universities, we have all across the state, all types of district, suburban, urban, and rural are all participating. This can work. This can work any time, any place. And I think Tennessee has proven this can work and will have a dramatic, dramatic impact on ensuring all kids have that educator they need and deserve.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

I absolutely agree. I love the model. I also love the concept that we are running a long game and in education so much of what we do is the long game. So building those relationships early, really digging into those partnerships and then watching the fruit of the labor as it blossoms really is what we’re seeking. So students who aren’t even in school are going to reap the benefits of the partnerships that you’ve already created. So that’s very exciting. Let’s actually shift over to Prentice and Lisa with regard to that local level relationship building. And what you all don’t realize is that our two colleagues have actually just recently published a book. It is called Rethinking School-University Partnerships: A New Way Forward. Yes, perfect. And I want to highlight that because you’re speaking to the experts about how to actually make this work and make it successful and have longitudinal impact. So what I’m hoping is that you both can discuss a bit of how you created, I’m thinking of a feedback loop, some opportunity for the district to come to you about what their needs were and what your needs were, and to have some collaborative conversations around that. But I’ll leave it to you to describe how you all implemented that work.

 Prentice Chandler:

Thank you. Before I answer the actual question, I do want to highlight something that David just said, which is when we went on the road trip, we presented for the state superintendents. And when we began our presentation, I asked for a show of hands how many people in the room were from higher education, how many people in the room talking about public school, public education were from universities. And it was a grand total of zero if you didn’t count us. And of course I made the point that day and I’ll make it now too, is if we’re going to get at these issues, public school leaders and leaders at universities have to have more conversations with each other. But to answer your question about the feedback loop, as someone’s already mentioned, this work did not occur overnight. It’s something that evolves slowly and then picked up steam and here we are.

 Prentice Chandler:

One of the first things that we did was create a partnership advisory council. I know that sounds like common sense and I think most EPPs do that. Ours meets quarterly. A lot of times you might meet once or twice a year. We meet sometimes four or five, six times a year. And Lisa and I made the decision early on that the filter and the lens that we made our decisions through always included the school districts. So as a college of education, we don’t do anything and I mean, we don’t do anything programmatically, unless we have had a conversation with the school district about their needs. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for us to do things as a college of education if it’s not what the schools need, not want, but need. We are in weekly communication with the schools.

 Prentice Chandler:

And again, this seems like common sense. We’re on the phone nearly every day about what we’re doing, what they’re doing. One thing that we did my first semester, which was a very strange thing for most folks in the room, is that we shared our data with the school district and the school district shared their data with us. And I remember it was the first time either group on either side had actually had a conversation about data from the other person’s perspective. And of course this sheds light on the constraints that we sometimes have that we don’t talk about. That was a a watershed moment for both of our institutions. Sharing space and resources, it’s the sense of what ours is yours and what is yours is ours, we have meetings at their place, they have meetings at our place.

 Prentice Chandler:

And for me, and David talked about the road show, one of the things I tried to drive home, and I think it’s one of the encapsulates much of this work is how we think about partnerships. You probably won’t find a Dean or an associate Dean who says they don’t do partnerships. So that’s not what I’m saying. What I would say is changing the nature of partnerships. And during the road show, I called it the big P partnership and the little P partnership, big P little P. And so little P partnership is what we all to be true is when a school district needs a teacher, they pick up the phone and call and we find you a student teacher. And you definitely need that level of relationship to make things work.

 Prentice Chandler:

What I would argue and what Lisa and I argue in our book is that is reactive, it’s superficial and oftentimes decisions are made in isolation. It’s not bad, but it’s very low level. Big P partnership is what we’ve done with the state, what we’re describing today. And I would argue that the stuff that we’re doing, that the mind shift that we need to make is being more proactive, mutually beneficial, futures oriented. And the big takeaway is how can EPPs and the state and school districts focus on fixing structural issues in teacher ed. One thing that we do really well in teacher ed is explaining the problems. In fact, we do it every single year. It’s the same article that gets published over and over and over. We know what the problem is, we’re really good at explaining it, we’re really good at defining it. So let’s make the shift into trying to fix it or improve upon it. And so that’s what I would argue that we’ve done with this project. How can we solve these perennial issues that we continue to talk about. But again, as it’s already been said, it all started with those first sets of meetings setting the tone and having the notion that we’re going to get a lot more accomplished together than we are separately. We tried separate and it didn’t work.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

I love the idea of little P and big P, especially because we know that this is pervasive and that this concept of relationship building isn’t simply between an EPP and a district, but can also be between colleagues. So it could be a mentor teacher and a candidate that we really need deep, meaningful, enriching relationships to ensure that the learning is acquired and employed and disseminated. So very excited to hear about the feedback loop. The fact that you’re meeting with folks weekly is I think really unheard of, especially within leadership, because there are so many competing priorities. It’s not that this isn’t urgent, but rather there are so many senses of urgency. So very, very excited about that part. I do have two questions from the audience that I’m hoping I can throw out to the panel for their addressing and then I have a couple of follow ups if we have some time. But those of you in the audience, if you do have questions, please send them over to us and we’ll get them over to the right person.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

So, David, I think this question is actually for you. The first part here, it says, “This is such helpful information and so impressive. We’re currently working on developing a model, similar recruiting, both paraprofessionals, as well as high school teaching academy students. Love ideas on how to replicate your model for the future in our area. How did the university receive the initial funding to begin in this work?” So as I understand it was state level funding that came to Austin Peay initially. Would you mind addressing this to a degree? And then Lisa and Prentice I’d love to hear from you, how did you pull the funding in and where did you allocate resources in order to start this first program?

David Donaldson:

Sure thing. Great question. So technically, and this might get a little in the weeds, there was already work in progress with Austin Peay and with Clarksville Montgomery where the district was making a very serious commitment to this work. We helped out with something known as a class size waiver that allowed for a very innovative way for the district to be able to allocate funds that they had for teacher salaries that were vacant. And instead of just admiring the problem and having that position remained vacant all year, they found a way. Like, look, we’re going to have to do something now in order to prevent this issue from snowballing. So they actually reallocated those funds into their Grow Your Own program and leveraged the waiver that we issued that allowed them to do that work. And then once we better understood what they were really doing, we wanted to figure out how we could accelerate it, hence state funding and federal funding. And this is where we are today. And I haven’t said their names yet, but I need to show out them out. Dr. Sean Impeartrice is the chief academic officer in Clarksville, Montgomery who’s led this work and under the former leader director Miller House, who’s actually now the superintendent in Houston and both of them are just incredible leaders and innovative individuals. And so I just want to make sure I’m giving credit where credit is due there.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

So it also sounds like from your response, David, that part of the relationship was also between Austin Peay and state department so that they could communicate to you this is what’s going on in the district, this is how we’re supporting the district. We need your support now to issue this waiver so that in effect, this can be successful. So just I want to highlight that other relationship there, because as Dean Chandler mentioned earlier, it is actually quite nuanced that relationship, and sometimes it’s not always positive. So really exciting also to here that that was working out for you all. So I’ll throw it over to Lisa and Prentice. Would you mind addressing the Grow Your Own program within your institution and how it worked with Clarksville with the funding mechanisms?

 Prentice Chandler:

Lisa, do you want to go ahead?

Lisa Barron:

Go Dr. Chandler.

 Prentice Chandler:

So on a funding standpoint, and I’m really dumbing it down, but one of the very first conversations I had with Miller House, the former director and the provost and the president in my university was just we came to the table and agreed that teacher education at Austin Peay was going to be a priority. And once you make it a priority, you can allocate funds. And so the short of it is if we agreed to a 50-50 split with a school district. So the school district would pick up 50% of the cost for 40 students to go to school and our university would pick up the other half. Now it is more complicated than that, but I don’t think we have time within our short slide here to talk about all the ins and outs, but at the end of the day, that was agreement. And again, I want to give kudos to the former president of our institution and the former provost, because this would not have occurred without their leadership saying that the teacher education is important enough to put this resources into. Which I’m pretty sure is a rare thing these days, but it was a 50-50 split.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

That’s wonderful to hear at the institution’s leadership between the president and the provost also invested political capital at that point, as well as financial capital into the program. I agree with you that right now schools of education and colleges of education on campuses are not always at the primacy of either one of those political or financial capital investments. So really exciting to hear about that from Austin Peay. Our second question is from another member of the audience who is asking, “What are the requirements for admission to Grow Your Own program? Must a candidate already have completed college level courses? Does it include both certification at the elementary and secondary levels?” So I’m curious maybe if Lisa and Prentice, if you all wouldn’t mind to that one and basing it off your current career.

Lisa Barron:

Right. So first of all, it is dual requirements from the district and the university. From the university side, they had to meet admissions requirements that we require of any student coming into Austin Peay. But from the district side, they went through a pretty strict, rigorous interview process because they wanted to vet the members of the cohort that they were put priority for diverse candidates, but also those who had shown, demonstrated the passion and the commitment for teaching who had long term viability and in that they were to that district, they were committed to the community, they were part of the community, and just those dispositional aspects. And a lot of them were already paraprofessionals in the school district. So they had had time to build some relationships. They knew the paraprofessionals that really showed a lot of potential as teachers, just had perhaps not been given the opportunity for one reason or another to progress in the teacher pipeline and that trajectory that we would hope. They show the commitment to and passion for teaching, but they just didn’t have the resources.

Lisa Barron:

And so all of that. And then there was also with teacher academy in the districts. And so those students were tapped. And so for our first cohort, we had students coming straight from high school, 18 year olds that were committed to teaching. And then we had some that were 40, 50 year olds who had been paraprofessionals. So it was a wonderful mix. And so as important as our admission requirements were for the university, just as important were the requirements that the district had for these candidates. And I think that’s really what makes the Grow Your Own program unique in that they were tapping into those professionals in the district. They were already committed, already showing promise. And so that really has made a difference in the type of cohorts that we are receiving now.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

I’m so thrilled to hear that Lisa, because as you were discussing this demographic and the differential and age range, I kept thinking about the incredible network of professionals that these candidates were being coalesced around. As they enter the school district, they can lean on so many different individuals to learn from and share with, et cetera. So really, really neat opportunity. David, I think you wanted to perhaps add in a few pieces here on the state perspective.

David Donaldson:

Yeah. Thank you. So as Dr. Barron shared, I mean, and again, I think it’s just an exemplar of what Grow Your Own can look like in their partnerships. But I want to hit on all the different things, the individual assets, it’s also a really good question. So when it said, what are the requirements for remission to Grow Your Own program? This is why we’re so excited about it. The state board obviously has certain requirements in order to be in EPP, but at the end of the day, every university has own requirements. We do not touch that as a state. It’s about local control. We are a local control state. So every district and it’s EPP, the EPP is able to keep its requirements. And if they want to make changes, they can do so as long as it’s approved by the state board.

David Donaldson:

Must the candidate already have completed college level courses? Depends. The previous question talked about working with high school students. Well, high school students might not have college courses yet, unless they’re doing. And trust me, I love that that question, that person is doing what appears to be teaching as a profession, dual credit. Seems like that credits that can go towards teaching, that’s really good work. But every partnership, we’ll have a district that has three EPP partners. They’ll have a partner with the EPP that’s for post back and master’s degree seeking individuals, they’ll have a partnership for somebody that already has an associate’s degree. So it’s a two year program. They’ll have something that is a four year bachelor’s program because it’s for paraprofessionals in high schools, graduating seniors that do not yet have college credits.

David Donaldson:

I think Michael brought up a really good point at the beginning around ESSER funding when he said with 3.0 specifically being sold 2024, as the state when we’re receiving applications, we’re saying, “Look, how are you going to graduate individuals over the next two years or three years based on our last grant? You wouldn’t be able to do a four year program with ESSER funding based on the time constraint.” That’s why we did four year programs the first state funding and things of that nature. So you want to make sure you’re very creative with that and targeting certain groups, but every district’s different. There are certain districts that have those paraprofessionals that have never been given a chance. This is a different topic for a different day, but I think we have a different partnership with Austin Peay that’s Grow Your Own for school leaders.

David Donaldson:

And you think about it all the time when we talk to superintendents, they know who they want to be a principal, they know who they want to be a teacher, but simply because certain individuals do not have that license in hand, they cannot. And so this is about opportunity, removing boundaries and things of that nature. And then when it says, does it include both certification at elementary and secondary? We had mentioned earlier, we have that non-negotiable of special ed and ESL. Our ESL endorsements are K12. Our special ed are a little different, their K eight or six 12, but the key here is the district picks with the EPP what is the main endorsement area we want, they may choose middle school science. So it’s middle school science and then either ESL or special ed. So it just depends. And that’s the true power in greatness of local control. It’s identifying the needs that are important to that local community, because if we just said, “Hey, we’re doing Grow Your Own and it’s all for six 12 English and special ed,” that isn’t necessarily the need across the entire state. 147 districts have 147 different needs.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

Makes perfect sense. And I think what you just highlighted, David, was radically important for people to hear in that EPPs, Educator Preparation Programs, teacher preparation programs, states agencies and local agencies really need to attend the local context. So what is it that the local context actually desires and needs from the EPP, which is something that Dean Chandler mentioned earlier. Really hone in on the opportunities that are within the local context and highlight from there what are the things that the EPP is going to be responding to and draw from that pool, right? That well of knowledge. So I’m actually curious, there is somebody else in the audience who’s very interested in the funding mechanisms. And so, David, I know you just spoke. Would you mind jumping in and quickly attending to, is it that the university offered their program at 50% and that was covered through ESSER funding or how did the mechanism work? David perhaps, or Lisa, Prentice. Not sure who wants to address that question.

David Donaldson:

I can take a stab at it from the state level. So the way we did things is we offered grants of $100,000 and there’s obviously multiple of criteria. But, sorry, EPPs are the ones who technically are awarded the funds. They’re the ones who then say, “Well, this is the amount of students I am able to provide for $100,000.” So they may say I can do 10 students earning master’s degrees in social studies and special ed, for example. And that would be potentially a one or a two year program. They may say I can do 20 individuals earning a bachelor’s degree. And in this case they already have to have an associate. So it’s two years of school for this and that. So certain universities approached it differently with any changes to their costs and how they work that out.

David Donaldson:

We just said, we have $100,000 and we have individuals who want to become teachers. I think one thing that we all know, this is not a surprise to anybody, enrollment in EPPs it’s not a Tennessee issue, this is a national issue, is down. And so we are guaranteeing students and [inaudible 00:46:54] with these funding. So what can you provide to us? It’s amazing how creative universities or EPPs can get when there is guaranteed funding. We’ve had EPPs awarded over $500,000, five grants of $100,000 each. We’ve had some even more than that. Those 14 EPPs have been very creative in meeting the needs of various districts.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

Mike, do you want to jump in on this question and discuss ESSER funding a bit more and how that can be utilized?

Michael Rose:

Yeah. Just wanted to clarify a couple things. 90% of ESSER funds goes to the local school district, 10% goes to the state education associate agency. So none of it actually goes to university. The universities did get funding through ARPA. However, half of that money was meant to relieve stress of students. So food stress, housing, all those things. So it’s really meant to be financial, well, not financial aid, but financial support for students that were really in trouble. The rest of the funds that went to universities was meant for cleaning the classrooms and dorm rooms, buying personal protective equipment, all those things. So what we’re advocating for is when at 90% of the ESSER funds goes to the school district to establish or enhance the relationships that you have with that local school district and develop these programs. The individual education programs at universities do not get the funding. So it’s almost a little bit of like a reverse funding. The money goes from the federal government to the local school district and then back to the university. So I just wanted to try and explain the funding mechanics a little bit more.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

Extremely helpful. I really appreciate that addition. I think that helps clarify for folks what we’re actually asking you to do with regard to those relationships in school districts and advocating on behalf of teacher candidates for the future. We have a question from a colleague of AACTE, Anissa Listak from the National Center on Teacher Residencies. She is curious about how the panel thinks about the differences between Grow Your Own programs and residencies. Do you have any thoughts on this matter? I’ll throw it out to everybody in case there are some of you who are interested about GYO versus residency.

Lisa Barron:

Well, I don’t know if I’m addressing this question and what she is hitting it and wants to know, but in our model, we have combined Grow Your Own with residency. It’s a Grow Your Own residency, in that we are picking again how we pick the members of the cohort they’re from the districts, they’re from the communities, they’ve proven that and shown that demonstrated it, but also they’re in a residency program in that they can be full-time hired as payer professionals, finish their courses in the evening and the afternoons in a accelerated way and then they’re able to progress right into the teaching field. They don’t have to do student teaching. Their time in the field with working with a many levels of support within the district and also from the university, they fulfill the requirements of what we would think of student teaching. So their residency program is actually a two to three year residency, as opposed to what we would normally think of a one year residency it’s been expanded. So it’s a new model. It’s not the 15 week student teaching, but it’s also not the one year residency. It’s more like a two or three year residency. So we’ve taken the best of both models and combined them. So I hope that answers the question.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

Fantastic. Go ahead, David.

David Donaldson:

Yeah. Thanks Jackie. Anissa, thanks for the question. And for those who are watching this, NCTR does incredible work and they’ve been a great partner as well with us. And so some of our Grow Your Own grants have actually gone to the national teacher residency as well as to relay graduate school of education, which are traditional residency models, which is incredible work that they do. And I’m a big proponent of residency models. But as Dr. Barren is saying, I think the key here with our non-negotiables is that again, the minimum requirement of the state right now is 15 weeks for clinical internship. And so we’re saying two years, whether it’s clinical internship as defined by the state of Tennessee or like a residency model. The point is we need more hands on time for our future educators.

David Donaldson:

Let’s be honest folks, you can’t become a teacher by reading a book. You need to be in the classroom. And so, although I’m a big believer in residencies, the key here is more time on task. And I’ll do my quick little thing that I like to say, and I know this might not be the target audience but it’s something that I say often. I’m a big baseball fan. And so I think a lot about Ichiro Suzuki, for those of you who may not know hall of famer Seattle Mariners. But when he became a rookie in the major leagues, there was a huge controversy because I believe he was about 27 years old as a rookie and he had already had about 7, 8, 9 years of professional experience in Japan. And so was he truly a rookie? Well, according to Major League Baseball, he was.

David Donaldson:

And so I think about that lot for us in Tennessee. I want to eliminate the idea of a first year teacher. I would love for our first year teachers to really be in their third year when you think about the amount of experience that they are bringing in on day one. We have so many folks. We all know national statistics on teacher turnover within the first five years. Let’s stop the problem before it starts. And I think Austin Peay I mean, we said two years and it’s like name that tune we can do it in three years. They added a year with the clinical internship that they do, because there is nothing more important than being under that mentor and getting that real everyday in the classroom. And I think it’s especially important because we require the dual endorsement piece. So you want to make sure you’re getting clinical internship or residency in the endorsement area that the district is focused on as well as time in a special ed or ESL setting as well. But yeah, that’s my Ichiro Suzuki. And for those of you that prefer basketball, my example would’ve been Toni Kukoc with the Chicago Bulls during the Jordan era. I’m still working on football and hockey examples so I’m open to suggestion.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

Well, we’ll definitely get you a hockey example. We’re a hockey family over here so I’ll work on that for you, David. As we wrap up today’s workshop, I’m hoping that the panelists would join me in a final thought on thinking about any of the learning that you gleaned or perhaps a success or something you’d change from the program. So I’d love to start actually in reverse order if you all don’t mind. If Lisa and Prentice, would you mind going first with your final thoughts? And then David and then Mike, I think we’re going to close up.

 Prentice Chandler:

So I’ve made lots of notes, lots of ideas. But my takeaway from this entire conversation is that EVPs, school districts and state, if we’re going to improve education, we have to do things differently. I know that’s not a revolutionary thought. We can’t simply do things the way we’ve always done them. The other thing that is really clear here to me in this second or third year into this is that this conversation smashes the narrative that people aren’t interested in being teachers and school leaders. What they’re not interested in is jumping through unnecessary hoops and having subpar training and then having to work a part-time job while they do their student teaching, et cetera. We make it too hard to be a teacher. And so with this program, we have people lined up ready to join our cohorts. David had mentioned our leadership program. We went from having 15 students to 120 students because fundamentally we changed the way we do things. So if we want to get better at these things, we have to changed the structures of how we do it. Lisa, anything?

Lisa Barron:

So I would say this all started with a solid foundation of relationships with our school districts, and this big work would not have happened if we didn’t have that to begin with. So I would say that would be first start that foundation of building a strong foundation relationship with your school districts. But also, I think we have learned so much along the way. Our first cohort started the fall of 2019 and they will graduate this next year, which is really exciting. But we’ve learned so much. And what we originally thought the program was going to be has tweaked according to the needs of the districts and according to just other things that have come, logistics issues and challenges. So I would say don’t think you have to have every detail figured out before you jump into the work, because it’ll change. It’ll change based on, on circumstances. And certainly COVID has been one of those circumstances that has certainly changed part of our residency model. So again, I would just encourage anyone who’s interested to not let fear or the seeming challenges that we have stand in the way, because there are going to be challenges regardless. So it’s just how we choose to confront them.

David Donaldson:

I would just add a yes and to everything Dean Chandler and Dr. Barron said, specifically if Dean Chandler talked about doing things different, I’ll add to that with this has been hit on a lot, but partnerships. What started with one district and one EPP, then you get the state department of education involved. Were incredibly grateful for the governor and the eight legislature’s interests. And now here we are today with the federal administration proposing over $2 billion if I’m not mistaken for Grow Your Own programs. We have AACTE who’s been a champion of this work across the nation along the way. But we’re seeing this it’s the partnerships and then that turns into positive momentum. And so the key here is you got to start. Do not allow, what is it, analysis paralysis to get in the way. And look, we’ve had to change things along the way, and there’s going to be changes when we roll out Grow Your Own 3.0. You live and learn, but kids do not get a second chance at seventh grade, they don’t get a second chance at third grade.

David Donaldson:

Every child deserves a high quality teacher. And so it is our job to do things now. We should do the right thing all the time. And I think this is just a great example of one small thing that has actually grown and grown and we’re really excited about to see where this goes. And if there are any states, any districts on this call that are interested, I’m sure all of our contact information will be provided because we’re personally dedicated to Tennessee on this call, but it’s we are dedicated to all kids all the time across this great country. So thank you.

Michael Rose:

So this was mentioned already during our conversation, but obviously you need to get by and by key decision makers. So I really encourage you to engage your principles, your superintendents, university presidents, all the rest of it. We also really want to engage your elected officials, both at the state and federal level. You need to explain to them that these programs work, we can do more we just need more funding. We need them to be aware of the successes. They can’t fund programs, or they can’t expand programs if they don’t have the knowledge about the good that they do. So it’s really important to getting involved, get engaged with your elected officials through whatever means you can.

Michael Rose:

Sometimes that means going to the hill or calling a congressional office on your own, other times it’s joining an organization’s day on the hill. And AACT has won in September, it’s September 21st through the 23rd. And it’s a great opportunity to push these kind of programs. And as David alluded to, president Biden proposed a $9 billion increase in teacher preparation programs. The house of representative seems to be following suit, but it’s unclear if the Senate’s going to be doing the same thing. So on the day on the hill that we’re going to be doing, it’s a great opportunity to advocate for those programs and say, we’re doing great work, but we need more money. And this is a perfect vehicle to do so.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

I want to say thank you to all of our panelists. Please don’t go yet. I’m going to share three takeaways and then I think Hillary has something exciting to share with everybody. Just going to highlight the three things I really gleaned from the conversation today. The first is that these models exist. We’re not asking you to invent the wheel. We’re actually asking you to beg, borrow, and steal and tell people that you want to be doing this and ask them for what documentation or resources that they can provide you. We are all in this together, and we do want to see this happening and growing across the country. The second is that having a champion for your work is incredibly important. So thinking about that with regard to whether it’s in the district or at the state in this case, knowing that there are people who are willing to put the political and financial resources behind a program like the one in Tennessee as a state, but also at Austin Peay will really be the make or break for a lot of these programs.

Jacqueline Rodriguez:

And then finally, I want to say thank you to Lisa and Prentice, the strong leadership that you all are hearing from the Erickson College of Education in this particular example is incredible, right? It is one of those partnerships that they have together as leaders, but also with the districts and then with the state that we hope that every EPP, Dean and associate Dean have. And so I just want to thank them again for doing the hard work for many, many years now, behind the scenes that we’re in a position to see the Tennessee model actually proliferate. So Hillary, thank you again for having us join you and GoReact. I think I’m going to hand it off to you for some prize.

Hillary Gamblin:

Yeah. Don’t sign off yet because you can win some AirPod Pros. We’re just so grateful that people joined us live today to participate in this. And so to show appreciation, we’re actually going to select a random live participant to win some AirPod Pros, which are my favorite accessory ever. So you are going to be very lucky and that person is, let’s see… Waiting for someone to be selected.

Hillary Gamblin:

Anissa Listak who asked that wonderful question at the end. So thank you so much. We will get in touch with you to give you your AirPod Pros. Now, I can’t give AirPod Pros to everybody, but we will be sending an email with a link to the recording from today and all the slides from today’s workshop. So watch for that in your inbox. And just going on with all the thank yous that have been going on throughout this whole workshop, on behalf of GoReact we just want to say thank you to AACTE for collaborating to make this workshop possible. Thank you to those who are participated, those who are behind the scenes making all this work and of course our guests, Jackie, Mike, David, Prentice, and Lisa. They did this workshop voluntarily, and we are just so grateful for their expertise that they could share it today. And with that is it for today and we will see you next time.

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