College of Education Dean Paula Summers Calderon was recently invited to Washington, DC, by US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to participate in a roundtable discussion about preparing classroom teachers. Southeastern is one of only seven school-university partners in the nation and the only one in Louisiana originally selected for the education coalition University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Education Preparation (US PREP).
“US PREP is a well-connected program advocating for rigorous university-based teacher education programs. In addition to advocating, US PREP provides clinical coaches who come to the university to train our methods instructors, host mentor teachers, and university site coordinators in best practices in teacher education,” Calderon explained. “As a new dean, I made the decision to continue the US PREP partnership, and the College of Education is delighted to be an inaugural and continuing member of the US PREP Coalition.”
Attending the meeting with Calderon was Southeastern alumna and 2018 College of Education Student Teacher of the Year Payton Bryant. Bryant currently teaches at Luling Elementary in St. Charles Parish.
“When Dr. Calderon asked me to attend the roundtable discussion in Washington, DC, to speak to Secretary DeVos, I was beyond excited for a chance to tell my story of what high quality teacher preparation can do,” Bryant said. “My ultimate goal was to implore Secretary DeVos to make my experience commonplace for new teachers in order to prepare them adequately and retain them for years to come.”
During the meeting at the Department of Education, US PREP highlighted how it is addressing challenges that contribute to a national shortage of educators. Coalition deans and program graduates shared innovative features of the initiative and emphasized the importance of high-quality training for pre-service teachers.
Among the features of US PREP are close partnerships between universities and schools, embedded university faculty in school districts, and intensive clinical experiences featuring a yearlong teaching experience and robust performance assessments. US PREP also supports their member providers with developing high-quality teacher preparation pathways that are affordable and accessible to prospective teachers.