Peoria Public Schools awarded its Community Contribution Award to Bradley University Teacher Education faculty Dr. Dean Cantu, Teacher Education Chairperson; Dr. Joan Sattler, Dean and Professor of Education and Health Sciences, and Ms. Jane Cushing, Licensure Officer and Clinical Coordinator for their efforts in establishing a novice and student teacher program specifically designed to cultivate and recruit new teachers for Peoria Public Schools.
In presenting the award, Dr. Susan Grzanich, Innovation and Grants Officer, noted that since the program was established in 2015, eight Bradley University Teacher Education graduates have become PPS teachers, a significant accomplishment during a nationwide teacher shortage.
Through the program, Bradley teacher education students build early and long-term relationships with the district. Students might stay in the same classroom for an entire year or split the school year between two grade levels in the same building or two different buildings. The goal, explained Grzanich, is to help novice and student teachers the chance to development a familiarity with the district. The cohort meets once each month to reflect on their experiences, ask questions and give district administrators feedback.
Participants in the program report that they appreciate the extended time allowed to learn from their cooperating and co-teachers and the chance to build relationships with students. Secondary-level student teachers particularly find the long term experience helpful in establishing credibility with students.
“Many students from Bradley are actually from the Chicago suburbs and return to their hometowns for student teaching. Our partnership with Bradley University represents a renewed effort to engage students attending college in our community and building early relationships with them,” said Grzanich.