- The University of North Florida’s (UNF) College of Education and Human Services on Thursday received a grant for more than $7 million dollars
- Coming from the U.S. Department of Education, the grant will fund Project PREP, which aims to help solve the acute teacher shortage in Clay County District Schools
- The project consists of various educational and professional development opportunities to better prepare teachers for classroom settings
The University of North Florida’s (UNF) College of Education and Human Services has been awarded more than $7 million by the U.S. Department of Education. The funding is intended to kickstart initiatives to address the critical teacher shortage in Florida.
The funded initiative, Project PREP (Partnering to Renew the Educator Pipeline), brings together the Clay County District Schools and UNF’s College of Arts and Sciences to help solve the acute teacher shortage and produce equitable teaching results for all students.
The grant intends to operate as a comprehensive strategy for creating an educator route to better recruit and retain education professionals for high-need districts, such as Clay County.
“No doubt we have all seen that there is a national teacher shortage and a need for strong teacher preparation programs for recruitment and retention of educators”, said David Broskie, Clay County District Schools superintendent in a statement. “Clay County District Schools is excited to partner with the University of North Florida as a grant recipient of the Teacher Quality Partnership program. We know that the greatest influence on a student’s academic achievement is a strong, well-trained teacher. This partnership will allow us to invest in the next generation of teachers and leaders who will help our students achieve their dreams.”
The project consists of a variety of components that purport to enhance teacher training and skillset acquisition. Such efforts include high school dual enrollment, undergraduate teacher preparation and certification, new teacher induction, teacher leadership graduate certificates, and advanced credentials stackable towards a Master’s in Education at UNF, among others.
“We are ecstatic at the news of this award,” stated Dr. Rebecca Burns, Principle Investigator for Project PREP. “This support will allow us not only to deepen, but also to take our partnership with Clay County to the next level, and together transform teacher education for northeast Florida. The results of this grant could serve as a model for rethinking the educator pipeline through partnership for Florida as well as the nation.”
Just months into the new academic school year, Florida’s public schools face a critical state teacher shortage, with no signs of it slowing down. With the total number of vacant educator positions approaching 10,000, fears exist that vacancies proliferate to a point of severity.
The most severely impacted core topic is English, a subject in dire need of more teachers after just 25 percent of third-graders were found to read at a proficient level on the state FSA exam.
Further, an alarming contingent of teachers are leaving the field in pursuit of better-paying jobs.