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Award recognizes Illinois State’s urban education program

(February 25, 2008) Illinois State University’s College of Education is being honored for its work in recruiting and training teachers for Chicago Public Schools. The College of Education’s Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline Programs and Partnerships has received the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) Best Practice Award in Support of Global Diversity and Inclusion.

The AACTE Best Practice Award recognizes an institution that fosters the development of quality teaching and professional education practices that promote diversity, equity, and global perspectives. The award will be formally presented at the AACTE annual meeting in New Orleans on February 7.

The Best Practice Award recognizes projects that have been implemented to strengthen the urban education program in the College of Education. The projects focus on the public schools in Chicago’s Little Village Community. The Professional Articulation for Recruiting/Retaining Teachers for Neighborhood Engagement and Renewal (PARTNER) Project focuses on increasing urban teacher recruitment and improving preparation and retention of teachers in hard-to-staff inner-city schools. The PARTNER Project is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The National Engagement to Induct Growth and Housing: Building Organizations for Residents and Students (NEIGHBORS) Project works to improve student achievement by increasing K-12 students’ reading and literacy skills. The NEIGHBORS Project is sponsored by the State Farm Insurance Company Foundation. Both projects are part of the College of Education’s Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline, which works to increase urban teacher recruitment and improve urban teacher retention through mentoring and support.

“The AACTE Best Practice Award provides us with external validation of what we felt was working and making a marked difference in the lives of faculty and students on campus, teachers and students in our partner schools in Chicago, and for the communities we serve,” said Robert Lee, director of the Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline Programs and Partnerships. “Both PARTNER and NEIGHBORS Projects have helped us move forward to better understand how to best recruit and then prepare urban teachers for the challenges they will face. That is a win-win when our graduates choose Chicago to start their professional careers, because in the end our city’s children will be taught by teachers who have had substantive education about diversity, practically embedded in Chicago public school classrooms.”

“We are very proud to be associated with the Chicago Public Schools in the Little Village Community,” said Deborah Curtis, dean of Illinois State’s College of Education. “Our students have had an exceptional opportunity as they have participated in this program. During this experience, they live in the community and learn about the rich culture of its residents. Illinois State values the preparation of teacher candidates for diversity in urban education.”

“The Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline Program and Partnerships is an excellent example of Illinois State University’s commitment to education and diversity as outlined in our Educating Illinois strategic plan,” said Illinois State President Al Bowman. “The work the College of Education is doing with Chicago Public Schools is resulting in enhanced teacher recruitment and training efforts which benefit thousands of students.”

AACTE is a national, voluntary association of almost 800 higher education institutions and other organizations and is dedicated to ensuring the highest quality preparation and continuing professional development for teachers and school leaders in order to enhance PK-12 student learning. Collectively, the AACTE membership prepares more than two-thirds of new teachers entering schools each year in the United States.