K-State College of Education receives grant to diversify the teacher workforce
Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023
MANHATTAN — Kansas State University's Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy in the College of Education has received a $3.9 million federal grant to increase the number of highly effective teachers to serve culturally and linguistically diverse students and families in six school districts in Kansas and Nebraska.
The three-year grant is funded through the Supporting Effective Educator Development, or SEED, Program from the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Project RAÍCES — Spanish for "roots" and an acronym for Reenvisioning Action and Innovation through Community Collaborations for Equity across Systems — leverages the combined strengths of K-State's College of Education and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Education and Human Sciences to increase the number of teachers of color by enhancing, expanding and replicating existing models of teacher recruitment, preparation and induction.
In addition to fostering the recruitment, retention and graduation of preservice teacher candidates, Project RAÍCES expands the existing Master of Arts in teaching program at K-State, an alternative pathway to teacher licensure for career professionals. The new project provides a tailored pathway designed to increase participants' capacities for culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogy and to obtain an English for speakers of other languages endorsement.
The six district partners in Project RAÍCES are: Dodge City Public Schools, Dodge City; Columbus Public Schools, Columbus, Nebraska; Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, Nebraska; Schuyler Community Schools, Schuyler, Nebraska; South Sioux City Community Schools, South Sioux City, Nebraska; and Wakefield Community Schools, Wakefield, Nebraska.
The partner school districts will benefit from professional development emphasizing biography-driven instruction, a framework pioneered by Socorro Herrera, executive director of the Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy and lead principal investigator for Project RAÍCES.
This framework will guide the implementation of culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogy that fosters student-centered instruction through a focus on the learners' sociocultural, linguistic, cognitive and academic assets. The induction and retention of teachers of color in these districts will be bolstered through a strategic focus on critical mentoring support.
"Building a promising future in diverse contexts is possible when we take a systems approach to improving equitable educational opportunities for the students we serve," Herrera said. "This project will support us to engage in a continuous cycle of conversation with local, regional, and national experts, reenvisioning and taking action to achieve a more diversified teacher workforce."
Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education, believes this project will have far-reaching benefits.
"Not only is the concept behind Project RAÍCES powerful, but it's the combined richness of the intent of all of our vested partners — and what this means for students and these communities — that truly reveals the potential impact of this aspirational project," Mercer said.