The Fort Lewis College Teacher Education Department received a $125,000 grant for rural educator recruitment and retention as part of statewide award from the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Nearly $2 million was awarded under the Plan Into Action grant to 17 collaborative projects designed to recruit and retain more educators.
In the Southwest Rural Educator Recruitment & Retention Project, the FLC Teacher Education Department will collaborate with area schools, districts, special providers, and alternative licensure programs in addressing local teacher shortages. Additionally, there will be several targeted recruitment efforts to increase the number and diversity of educators, particularly Native American and Hispanic educators, in high-need areas in southwest Colorado.
The project focuses on expanding numerous sustainable initiatives with local schools and school districts, as well as through partnerships with Southwest Boettcher Teacher Residency and San Juan Board of Cooperative Services Accelerator Project, which provide nearly 30 licensed teachers per year, respectively. Project goals include a “Grow Your Own” Teacher Academy with experiential activities and 12 credits of online teacher licensure courses, an increase in the number of dual endorsement candidates in identified shortage areas, and the use of long-distance observation technology.
The Plan Into Action grantees include school districts, boards of cooperative educational services and traditional and alternative educator training programs from across the state. The grant was established in partnership with the Colorado Center for Rural Education and as part of House Bill 18-1332, which was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper this May. As part of the grant agreement, awardees will track project outcomes and identify best practices to share and scale statewide.
Enrollment in and completion of educator preparation programs have declined by 24 and 17 percent respectively since 2010, and nearly a third of Colorado educators will be eligible for retirement over the next several years.