Teachers of Tomorrow
UD’s teacher pipeline program prepares high school students for careers in education
Each year, the University of Delaware’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) graduates approximately 200 teachers who will go on to fulfilling careers in early childhood or elementary teacher education. However, many more students who would have become exceptional teachers pick a different career path or forego college altogether. To help identify promising teachers early on, before the college application process begins, CEHD is piloting a new teacher education pipeline program.
Supported by a three-year grant from the Unidel Foundation Inc., Teachers of Tomorrow recruits rising juniors and seniors from under-represented backgrounds and provides resources, coaching and other opportunities to help them complete the college application process and succeed throughout their degree program.
“Teachers of Tomorrow prepared me for college because I knew what opportunities were available to me,” said Cooper Middleton, who was recruited for the first cohort in 2018 and is currently enrolled in UD’s Associate in Arts Elementary Teacher Education program in Wilmington, Delaware.
Support Leads to Success
When CEHD first envisioned Teachers of Tomorrow, the goal, said program manager Imani Powell, was to establish a teacher pipeline program for students from under-represented backgrounds so as to “diversify not only our student body in the College of Education and Human Development but also the teacher workforce for the state and possibly the region.”
The recruitment process begins during the fall semester, when Teachers of Tomorrow hosts a visitation day for Delaware high school students interested in pursuing a teaching career. While on campus, students observe an education class in progress, attend an admissions presentation, tour campus and receive information on the application process for the program.
Once accepted to the program, recruits from all three Delaware counties are then invited to attend a two-week summer institute at UD’s Newark campus. The experience includes residential living and other activities that will acclimate students to college life while introducing them to the university’s various teacher education degree programs.
“It gives access to students that may not have already had access to these types of programs and lets them see themselves here on campus,” said Kristine Ritz, senior assistant dean and Teachers of Tomorrow program director.
Students participate in workshops that focus on foundational academic coursework, such as college composition and mathematics, as well as workshops on college readiness and leadership development. They also receive guidance on the college application process, financial aid and how to balance the academic demands of higher education.
“Math is fun, but it can also be stressful,” said Anij’ya Wilson, a first-generation college student who is enrolled in the Elementary Teacher Education program in the School of Education. “The summer institute helped to prepare me for the math courses I’m taking now. I also learned my strengths in teaching, and now that I work at a daycare, it continues to help me every day.”
After the summer institute, Teachers of Tomorrow continues to provide recruits with support through high school graduation. Once a month, Teachers of Tomorrow hosts a Saturday Seminar where students have an opportunity to work on their college application, discuss careers in education with guest speakers, and learn more about college life from student-mentors who are currently enrolled in one of UD’s many teacher education programs. They may also qualify for funds to take UD courses while still enrolled in high school.
The entire experience is provided free to these prospective students.
Of the six high school seniors who were recruited for the Teachers of Tomorrow pilot program in 2018, three have enrolled in a teacher education program at UD, where they will continue to receive support, mentoring and academic advisement throughout the degree program. The entering cohort of 2019 brought about an additional 23 students. Of the 26 students total, 15 are eligible to apply for admission. Eleven have been admitted to UD.
“Watching the growth of these students has been really phenomenal,” said program coordinator Deandra Taylor, who is also enrolled in the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program. “Hearing them say UD is one of their top choices — they can see themselves here and know they will be supported — really speaks to the work we’re doing and why it’s needed.”