Opening Pathways for Students of Color into Teaching as a Career Connecting Campus to Community through Family Engagement

Opening Pathways for Students of Color into Teaching as a Career
Connecting Campus to Community through Family Engagement


Goals

Funded ($335,000) through the Nevada Department of Education (NDE) Great Teaching and Leading Fund (GTLF) from August 2016-2017, the Abriendo Caminos/Opening Pathways for Students of Color into the Teaching Profession: Giving Back to the Community through Teaching project seeks to:

1) Recruit students of color to college (especially to UNLV) and into teaching as a profession.
2) Reduce teacher shortages in Southern Nevada.
3) Diversify the teacher workforce in Southern Nevada.
4) Improve the quality of teacher preparation and teaching in Southern Nevada.

Abriendo Caminos/Opening Pathways Project

Funded through the Nevada Department of Education Great Teaching and Leading Fund Project ($335,000) from August 2016-2017, the Abriendo Caminos/Opening Pathways for Students of Color into the Teaching Profession has a three-pronged focus. Prong one focuses on research, prong two on recruitment, and prong three on registration.

With respect to research, the project will seek to understand why high school and college students of color are/are not interested in teaching as a profession, as well as what might build/incentivize their interest in becoming teachers. Building off of research results, project recruitment and registration efforts will bring together Clark County School District (CCSD) high school students of color, their parents/families, teachers, administrators and other licensed school personnel, as well as UNLV undergraduate college students of color to collaboratively chart a path from high school graduation, through college application and admission, to acceptance, enrollment, and successful transition into a teacher preparation/licensure major, and, finally, through college graduation and into teaching as a career, dedicating the first 3-5 five years of that career to teaching in the Clark County School District.

Consistent with the Teacher Education and Recruitment priority area and purposes of the Nevada Department of Education's (NDE) Great Teaching and Leading Fund (GTLF), the Abriendo Caminos/Opening Pathways project prioritizes recruitment, selection, preparation, and retention of effective teachers by identifying teacher candidates who, as students themselves, have had the experience of having to develop English language and literacy, often absent teachers with the cultural competency required to meet their social, emotional and academic needs.

Prong 1 Research: Charting Pathways (August-September 2016)

The project management team will undertake an initial survey and follow up focus group interviews with high school students of color, their parents, and college students of color to learn about and support their interest in teaching as a career for themselves and/or, where relevant, for their children.

Prong 2 Recruitment: Sharing Pathways (October 2016-May 2017)

Collaboratively with students, families, and school personnel, the project management team will establish an "Abriendo Caminos/Opening Pathway" project in 6 CCSD high schools with high enrollments and high percentages of students of color. Project "cohort meetings" will be held once a week at each school site during the school day, and once a month (with all 6 schools' participants together) at different community locations around the city on the weekend to facilitate parental/family involvement. Project-involved in-service teachers and other administrative/licensed school personnel will be supported by the project management team in building/augmenting comprehensive cultural competency.

Prong 3 Registration/Retention: Nurturing and Sustaining Pathways (June 2017-Forward)

Through a half-day recognition ceremony held in the College of Education on the UNLV campus, the project management team will:

  1. Celebrate Abriendo Caminos/Opening Pathways project students' admission to the teacher preparation/licensure project; and then,
  2. Induct them into a UNLV-based bridge project.

The bridge project will support students for their first two years in the teacher preparation/licensure project. As teacher candidates, the Abriendo Caminos/Opening Pathways project graduates will be academically supported through high-quality curriculum and instruction in courses of study that further prepare them to meet state academic standards in English language development and literacy and in extending their own cultural competency (are able to understand the challenges, but also the cultural and linguistic assets/strengths that all students bring to classroom and school communities) to ensure, as teachers, they can meet the social, emotional and academic needs of students like themselves, as well as students from other underserved populations.


Project Team

 
Project Team
Project Team
 
Name Project Title Email
Dr. Jori Beck
Assistant Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning, College of Education
Project Core Team Member (Co-Principal Investigator) jori.beck@unlv.edu
Cynthia Chávez
Teacher, Elaine Wynn Elementary School, Clark County School District
Teach-to-Lead Team Member chavec3@unlv.nevada.edu
Dr. Christine Clark
Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning, College of Education
Project Core Team Member (Co-Principal Investigator) chris.clark.unlv@me.com
Ms. Rosemary Q. Flores
M.P.A. Candidate (School of Public Policy and Leadership) & Family Engagement Specialist, College of Education
Project Core Team Member (Co-Principal Investigator) rosemary.q.flores@gmail.com
Marcus Jackson
UNLV Undergraduate Education Major, College of Education
Teach-to-Lead Member marjacks96@gmail.com
Ms. Monica Hernández-Johnson
Ph.D. Student (Department of Teaching and Learning) & Graduate Research Assistant, College of Education
Project Core Team Member (Co-Principal Investigator) herna137@unlv.nevada.edu
Dr. Norma A. Marrun
Assistant Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning, College of Education
Project Core Team Member (Co-Principal Investigator) norma.marrun@unlv.edu
Ms. Tara J. Plachowski
Ph.D. Student (Department of Teaching and Learning) & Graduate Research Assistant, College of Education
Project Team Member (Co-Principal Investigator) tara.plachowski@unlv.edu
Ms. Ravijot Singh
Ph.D. Student (Department of Teaching and Learning) & Research Associate, College of Education
Project Team Member (Co-Principal Investigator) singhr7@unlv.nevada.edu
Dr. Allison Smith
Director of Assessment and Teacher Education, College of Education Dean's Office
Project Manager (Principal Investigator) allison.smith@unlv.edu
Dr. Valerie Taylor
Visiting Faculty, Department of Interdisciplinary Degree Programs (College of Liberal Arts) & Research Associate
Project Team Member (Co-Principal Investigator) valerie.taylor@unlv.edu
Mr. Steven Thomas
Ph.D. Student (Department of Teaching and Learning) & Graduate Research Assistant, College of Education
Project Team Member (Co-Principal Investigator) steven.thomas@unlv.edu
Ms. Tonya Walls
Ph.D. Student (Department of Teaching and Learning) & Research Associate, College of Education
Project Team Member (Co-Principal Investigator) wallst3@unlv.nevada.edu

Project Highlights

  • The Abriendo Caminos/Opening Pathways project is focused on teacher recruitment and preparation.
  • The Abriendo Caminos/Opening Pathways project is designed to address southern Nevada's/Clark County School District's (CCSD) persistent teacher shortage and growing demographic diversity gap between students and teachers.
  • The Abriendo Caminos/Opening Pathways project aims to not only increase the number of teachers to address the teacher shortage, but also to diversify the teacher workforce to better serve all students in southern Nevada's schools.
  • As recently as March 2016, CCSD advertised the need to recruit an additional 700 teachers for the next school year.
  • Though the CCSD student demographic is close to 50% Latina/Latino students alone (in addition to high numbers of other students of color), its teacher demographic remains more than 75% white.
  • Five states, Nevada, California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico, have the highest gap between the percentages of Latina/Latino PK-12 students, and the percentages of Latina/Latino teachers.
    • Referred to as the Latina/Latino student-teacher gap, it is significant to note that Nevada is the only state of the five to not yet have devised a comprehensive plan to address this gap, despite federal incentives.
    • Though Latina/Latino students make up close to 50% of the CCSD student body, they represent only 25% of the UNLV student population, and only approximately 15% of the students enrolled in UNLV's teacher preparation/licensure project.
    • While these numbers are concerning, it is important to note that only 10 years ago, when the CCSD student body was just less than 40% Latina/Latino, only 12% of UNLV's students were, and fewer than 10% were pursuing teaching as a career.
    • So the numbers are moving in the right direction and, through the Abriendo Caminos/Opening Pathways project, will continue to do so with even greater resolve and speed.
  • The percentages of African American and Asian American students within CCSD are about proportional to those enrolled at UNLV, and only slightly disproportional (underrepresented) to those enrolled in the campus's teacher preparation/licensure project.
    • UNLV's recent achievement of, and pride in, its MSI, HSI, and AANAPISI statuses has improved its profile with college going minority students.
  • Through the Abriendo Caminos/Opening Pathways project, UNLV's COE/Department of Teaching and Learning will increase the pipeline of highly qualified teacher candidates of color-Latina/Latino, African American, and Asian American-with strong ties to the local community.
    • Teachers with strong ties to the local community are more likely to stay in the profession longer.
    • Teachers of color with strong ties to the local community are more likely to understand the sociocultural realities of students of color in that community.
    • Through the Abriendo Caminos/Opening Pathways project, teachers will be uniquely prepared to teach in their home communities in ways that ensure the on-going PK-12 and college academic achievement of all students.