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ASU earns ‘Best of West’ honors


October 29, 2007

ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership has received “Best of the West” recognition from the Western Maricopa Coalition (WESTMARC) for its innovative partnership with Teach For America, a nationally renowned organization that enlists top-level teacher prospects in the effort to eliminate educational inequality.

ASU’s partnership with Teach For America is designed to prepare and mentor a highly selective national corps of recent college graduates, known as “corps members,” who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools in low-income communities and become lifelong leaders for expanding educational opportunities.

“Teach For America brings diverse and highly accomplished undergraduates to the community to be teachers in high-need areas,” says Heather Carter, director of the Teach For America program at ASU’s West campus. “The College of Teacher Education and Leadership is able to provide these enthusiastic corps members with the necessary teacher training to be successful in the classroom. The college’s engagement with Teach For America at this deep level of support is a reflection of our commitment to the children of Arizona, who deserve well-prepared teachers.”

The partnership program that features the college’s In-MAC (Induction, Master of Education and Arizona Certification) teaching internship certificate program was cited by WESTMARC for the positive impact it will have on both teachers and students. The In-MAC/Teach For America program was recognized for its contributions to the image, lifestyle and economic development of western Maricopa County.

“I believe the most important factor in the success of this program and its recognition by WESTMARC is that the college has a real commitment to making our corps members the best teachers they can be,” says Andrea Stouder, director of the Teach For America/College of Teacher Education and Leadership partnership. “This is a growing, changing and improving partnership. We have done so much collaborative reflection, and we are working on both ends to make this the premier partnership between Teach For America and a teacher education program.”

The innovative approach taken by the college to create such a program – which features extensive mentoring and professional development of Teach For America corps members – makes it unique within the industry. It has taken a lead profile among Teach For America peers on the university level.

The model includes a commitment to the use of educational technology, expanding the mentoring and instruction beyond the walls of the university through such formats as Blackboard and Taskstream, and the college is researching the creative and practical use of podcasting, Internet wikis, blogs and online lectures and videos.

“We are proud of this honor,” says Mari Koerner, dean of the college. “It is a shining example of the ASU design imperative of social responsibility.

“We are engaged with the underserved classrooms taught by corps members by spending hours upon hours in these classrooms as mentors for these new teachers. Placing master K-12 teachers with corps members sets in place a system that meets the community needs for high-quality educators. As our university instructors visit Teach For America corps members in their classrooms, the boundaries between the university and the community are removed to provide embedded professional development for new teachers.”

ASU’s College of Teacher Education and leadership has gained national attention recently on a number of fronts, including:

• In June 2006, its Professional Development School (PDS) was the subject of a congressional briefing detailing its success in teacher retention and student achievement.

• In October 2006, it was recognized locally by WESTMARC with a “Best of the West” honorable mention for excellence in education.

• In February, the program earned a national Best Practice Award for Effective Partnerships in teacher education from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).

• In March, ASU honored CTEL with its President’s Medal for Social Embeddedness.

• In June, the college earned the Rich Media Impact Scholastic Achievement for its distance learning programs and use of educational technology.

• In September, the college’s department of special education received a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to prepare and place 145 special education teachers in six underserved school districts in Arizona.