The University of Indianapolis School of Education received a $750,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Education to improve teacher recruitment and retention efforts, according to Teacher Recruitment and Retention Grant Project Manager Kelley Carnagua. Over the summer, the DOE hosted a series of workshops where colleges and universities could attend, according to Dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences John Kuykendall.
During these workshops, Kuykendall said the DOE talked about how they were going to provide funding to support unique programs or activities regarding attracting, preparing and retaining high school students who have an interest in pursuing a career in education. From there, according to Kuykendall, the School of Education applied for the grant and received the funding this past summer. Kuykendall said that UIndy was able to host high school students on campus in a teacher bootcamp where students stayed on campus and attended workshops taught by UIndy faculty.
“[Students] were taught by our faculty, they went to visit schools in our Marion County area, I think they went out to an elementary school in Lawrence,” Kuykendall said. “They were able to be in our facilities, be taught by our faculty members and just really meet our students that were here as a part of that experience for a week. We think that was something that will help them kind of see us as a place they’d like to continue their studies.”
According to Carnagua, the School of Education has four main goals regarding the use of DOE funding. These goals include growing dual credit offerings for students, providing a week-long summer Teacher Prep Academy on campus, developing a paid apprenticeship program and establishing a positive public image around the teaching profession in Marion County.
“… We have created an apprenticeship program, where UIndy Teacher Education candidates in their second and third year have the opportunity to return to the school districts to work as a paid paraprofessional while they’re completing their college courses,” Carnagua said. “They’re having the opportunity to complete their coursework, while also being paid for their position.”
According to UIndy’s website, the grant expands dual credit offerings for high school students, and Carnagua said UIndy is already partnered with 12 school districts where 446 students are taking dual credit opportunities for the following courses:
- EDUC 100: Explorations in Education
- EDUC 203: Psychology of Learning, Development, and Instruction
- EDUC 255: Technology and Student Support Systems
- EDUC 272: Introduction to Learners with Mild Disabilities
- ELED 155: Children’s Literature, Appreciating and Incorporating Children’s Literature in Reading and Writing
The grant was offered to colleges and universities by the DOE to create a pathway into the teaching profession, according to UIndy. With a current shortage of teachers, Carnagua said they are trying to change the rhetoric around teaching in order to encourage students to pursue a teaching career.
“I think the overall perception of the teaching profession has changed,” Carnagua said. “The teaching profession isn’t viewed as positively as it was before. Currently, the teacher pay rate… People hear a lot of misconceptions about teacher pay and what that looks like, and so for some high school students choosing a career, the teaching profession might not look like it is as worth it in terms of income.”
According to Kuykendall, this shortage has created a workforce issue where teachers are leaving the profession in “leaps and bounds.” Teachers are quitting their jobs, Kuykendall said, and there is also a shortage of prospective teachers coming to universities.
“This is a profession that, you know, over time, you pay out really well. But that’s the number one reason and there are challenges,” Kuykendall said. “There’s always rules and [regulations] that come around teaching protocols, there’s less freedom now to teach. People hear stories and working in some of those tougher school districts really is discouraging for a lot of people.”
Despite this, Kuykendall said that teaching is a noble profession and that teachers make a significant impact on students’ lives. The profession of education should be held in high regard, according to Kuykendall.
“None of us would be where we are today without someone sitting down with us and taking the time,” Kuykendall said. “Our parents didn’t do all that. Who did it? It was a teacher, right? You spent as much time with a teacher growing up as you did with your parents when you think about it. And we quickly dismiss the work that they do. … I want our university folks to know that they should be proud of our teacher preparation program at the University of Indianapolis because we are producing good teachers.”