College of Education Reaching Dallas Students Through Strong Partnership with Dallas Independent School District
By: April Chavez on February 8, 2016
Partnerships are a key component of the values and vision that make the College of Education unique. Nowhere is that passion for partnerships more evident than in the multi-tiered relationship of the College of Education and Dallas Independent School District (DISD). While the collaborations between these two entities are extensive and diverse, the recent participation of 12 College of Education faculty, staff and students in the hands-on DISD STEM Expo, clearly demonstrated the impact of the partnership on students, their families and the broader Dallas community.
The relationship between the College of Education and DISD began in 2014 when the TechTeach Across Texas program was launched in the Dallas area. TechTeach Across Texas is a unique, fast-track program that allows students who hold an Associate of Arts in Teaching degree to complete their Bachelor of Science degree and earn their teacher certification in just one calendar year. With the success of the TechTeach Across Texas program, the two partners formed a mutually beneficial agreement to develop additional initiatives.
In another effort to ensure that teachers are prepared for the ever-changing educational demands of the 21st century, DISD and Raise Your Hand Texas, a non-profit organization committed to innovation and advocacy in the public education sector, turned to the College of Education to develop a specific curriculum focused on personalized learning. Each entity sponsored a cohort of 15 educators to earn a graduate certificate in blended and personalized learning.
Dr. Heather Greenhalgh-Spencer, assistant professor in the College of Education's Department of Curriculum & Instruction, who spearheaded the development of this pilot program said, "Personalized learning allows us to look at data from one specific learner, assess the areas where they are struggling or excelling and the tailor the curriculum or teaching method to meet the needs of that specific student, all in real time." She goes on to state, "There is a real niche opportunity to train teachers and collect data that will directly impact education in Texas classrooms."
Scott Ridley, Dean of the College of Education, fully supports and encourages all partnership efforts, from development of new certificates, to the community engagement of events like the STEM Expo. "We have amazing faculty and staff that are providing programs, research and services tailored specifically to the distinct needs of our partners. Texas Tech University is a highly-valued partner in Dallas ISD because of the brilliant capability of our faculty to apply what they know for the betterment of education in the Dallas community," Ridley said.
Another thing that College of Education faculty know is how to teach teachers. This led to the creation of a Master's Degree designed specifically for the educators at Young Women's STEAM Academy at Balch Springs Middle School, where DISD is providing 14 of their educators the opportunity to pursue this Master's degree free of charge. This innovative opportunity, led by Dr. Kris Childs, also a faculty member in the Curriculum & Instruction Department, will ensure that those teaching our best and brightest young women in one of today's most needed fields, will be equipped for the challenges of today's learning environment.
Whether demonstrating programmable toys and hands-on activities at the STEM Expo for children of all ages, or educating educators in a variety of disciplines, the relationship between Texas Tech's College of Education and DISD remains strong with a continuing focus on future, long-term initiatives. It is this type of collaboration that will allow the College of Education to put its vision and its values into action.