Published: Nov. 5, 2018
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A collaboration between the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education and Northeast Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services has received a new grant from the Colorado Department of Higher Education that bolsters collaborative efforts to create a more sustainable teacher force in Northeast Colorado. 

Designed to recruit and retain more educators, 17 new projects between school districts, boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES) and educator preparation programs were recently awarded nearly $2 million in total funding from the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE)

Over the past two years, the School of Education has strengthened its partnership with the NE BOCES and its 12 school districts to collaborate on innovative strategies for improving retention and recruitment of teachers in rural Colorado.

An initial grant in 2017 provided the CU Boulder-BOCES partnership with start-up resources, and the new $124,661 grant aims to build and elaborate on four strategies to address teacher retention and recruitment for this region:

  • Development of a teacher leadership master’s degree, with an initial focus on social emotional learning;
  • Creation of an online dual endorsement program in Special Education and teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse students;
  • Support for a summer institute for new and veteran teachers; and 
  • Expansion of an immersion program for prospective student teachers and field placement coordinators.

Over the past few years, NE BOCES districts have relied on hiring teachers through an alternative teacher preparation program. The focus of this project is to provide new teachers with increased opportunities to attain the knowledge and experiences they need to successfully teach increasingly diverse students in their local schools. 

“It’s an honor to expand our sucessful collaboration with our partners in Northeast Colorado,” said Dean Kathy Schultz. “Through multi-pronged strategies and professional development experiences that address the needs identified by the districts themselves, we aim to provide necessary support for new and veteran teachers through expanded coursework, while building a new pipeline of educators committed to rural schools.”

Project outcomes and best practices will be documented and shared to potentially scale strategies statewide, which is a part of the “Plan into Action” grant program agreement.

The Plan into Action program was established by CDHE in partnership with the Colorado Center for Rural Education to help support the dozens of recommendations outlined in the CDHE and Colorado Department of Education’s 2017 strategic plan aimed to curbing Colorado’s teacher shortage. 
 
“Teachers are the backbone of our education system and critical to our state’s long-term success,” said Dan Baer, CDHE executive director, in a CDHE news release. “These funds will strengthen the relationships among our institutions, alternative programs, and the schools in their backyard, helping communities cultivate their own teacher corps and better support those already in the classroom.”