Cal Poly School of Education Awarded $2.1 Million Grant to Prepare, Support Local Educators in Special Education, Bilingual Education

A bilingual teaching credential candidate teaching in the classroom. (Photo was taken prior to the Coronavirus pandemic).

SAN LUIS OBISPO — A Cal Poly team of faculty and staff members in the School of Education has been awarded a $2.1 million Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grant from the U.S. Department of Education for Cal Poly’s Teaching for Inclusivity and Equity Residency (TIER) project.

 The TIER project will create a residency program in the School of Education that will recruit and train 44 new teachers in the areas of special education and bilingual education and place these teachers in local school districts.

Through the residency program, teaching credential candidates will complete their teaching credential and their master’s degree while receiving a stipend throughout the program. These candidates will commit to teaching for at least three years in one of the TIER project’s partner districts, which include the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, Santa Maria Joint Unified School District and Lucia Mar Unified School District. 

“Our partner districts and all of us in the School of Education recognize the need for educators who are representative of the communities in which they teach and are culturally responsive,” said Briana Ronan, associate professor in the School of Education and the principal investigator for the grant. “We hope that this program and the funds received from the Department of Education can help us recruit individuals from the Santa Maria and Five Cities areas and help them become the best possible teachers for the children in those communities.”

In addition to Ronan, the project will be supported by Tina Cheuk, assistant professor in the School of Education; Sarah Hegg, program manager for the TQP grant; and Leah Wood, associate professor in the School of Education.

Through the project’s partnership with Santa Maria and Lucia Mar Unified school districts, candidates in the residency program will have the opportunity to student teach in the schools where they will be working and develop relationships with mentor teachers who will become their colleagues. The program will also support the teachers in their first year through Teacher Learning Communities, in which first-year teachers meet regularly to engage with each other and receive additional professional development support from Cal Poly faculty and veteran teachers.

“Having this award means we can support teacher candidates during a critical year of their training,” Wood said. “And by partnering with districts, we can hopefully help the districts retain these great individuals.”

Cheuk added: “Teachers trained in special education and bilingual education are needed across the county, and especially locally in Santa Maria and Lucia Mar. Receiving this grant is a major boon to our students, the field, and the Central Coast. We know that our emergent bilingual students and students with disabilities need this support, and seeing that there is a willingness to put resources into supporting them and their teachers is a great step toward greater equity in our school systems.” 

The first cohort of TIER teaching credential candidates will begin their programs in fall 2021 and begin teaching full time in fall 2022. The TQP grant will fund this five-year partnership, ultimately training 44 new teachers to work on the Central Coast. 

Additional information regarding the program and how to apply will be posted in the coming months at https://soe.calpoly.edu/.

A bilingual teaching credential candidate teaching in the classroom. (Photo was taken prior to the Coronavirus pandemic).
A bilingual teaching credential candidate teaching in the classroom. (Photo was taken prior to the Coronavirus pandemic).

In photo at the top, students in the Integrated M.S. in Special Education / Education Specialist (Special Education) Mild/Moderate Disabilities Credential Program learning from Dr. Leah Wood on campus. (Photo was taken prior to the Coronavirus pandemic).

Contact: Keegan Koberl
805-458-9302; kkoberl@calpoly.edu

October 29. 2020

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