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Teacher retention, support program among recipients of WPLC grants

Advancement Jul 9, 2020
Five women stand in a straight line
Five women stand in a straight line

KOKOMO, Ind. – An Indiana University Kokomo program to recruit and support future teachers and education alumni shared in $99, 995 in grant funding awarded by the IU Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council (WPLC). 

Dean Leah Nellis and the School of Education’s The Three Rs of Teacher Education was one of 14 programs, representing six IU campuses, that received grants during the WPLC’s ninth grant cycle. Since 2012, the council has awarded more than $1,123,000. 

The Three Rs in the title refer to recruitment, resilience, and retention, Nellis said, all important to prepare new teachers, transition them successfully into the classroom, and support them in their careers.

“This project focuses on increasing recruitment into teacher education programs, with a focus on helping our local district meet the critical shortage areas they have in their districts,” Nellis said. “It will also help us meet the need for teachers in the pipelines to reflect the diversity of the school districts.”

The recruitment part of the program will help with expansion of the Tomorrow’s Teachers program, which provides college classes in education for high school juniors and seniors, taught by IU Kokomo faculty in the high schools. There will be a focus on attracting potential teachers from diverse backgrounds, making it more likely children will see teachers similar to themselves. It’s currently available in the Kokomo, Logansport, Western, and Caston school districts, and the funding will make it possible to add more schools.

Resilience includes integrating lessons about educating children dealing with trauma, and taking care of your own mental health, into the education curriculum, and also will allow for bringing in resources from outside campus, Nellis said.

Retention extends that effort into meeting the social and emotional needs of School of Education alumni — which is especially critical with the challenges and uncertainty teachers face because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’re proud that so many of our alumni teach in our local districts,” she said. “In some cases, they are the only new teacher in the district, which can make them feel very alone. We haven’t had a formal networking and mentoring component for our alumni, and this provides us the means to launch it.”

WPLC grants range from $2,000 to $20,000, and support projects that aim to improve public health, support women’s leadership initiatives, promote STEM disciplines, develop a culture of philanthropy, increase opportunities for diverse and underserved populations, and provide global experiences for students on multiple IU campuses.

The council reviewed 40 applications and invited 14 project leaders to present their programs to the full council. In partnership with the Well House Society — one of the IU Foundation’s donor recognition societies — all 14 finalists received at least partial funding.

“As the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council grant program successfully concludes its ninth year, the council responded to critical needs and inspiring initiatives proposed by IU students, faculty, and staff not only with allocated granting funds this year, but also with their hearts,” said Rebecca Resetarits, executive director of Women’s Philanthropy at Indiana University. “With so many members of the council personally moved to provide additional funding, we never could have predicted such a powerful response to our grant recipients. We also remain deeply grateful for the continued support of our partners in the Well House Society, which has provided an even greater impact on the many crucial projects and exciting ideas presented by Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council grant applicants.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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