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UNF COEHS receives record-setting $7 Million U.S Education Dept. grant to renew educator pipeline

The University of North Florida’s College of Education and Human Services has been awarded an over $7 Million partnership grant, Project PREP (Partnering to Renew the Educator Pipeline), alongside Clay County District Schools and UNF’s College of Arts and Sciences to address the critical teacher shortage and create equitable teaching outcomes for every student. 

Awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Project PREP is the largest single grant that the College of Education and Human Services has received to date. Spanning five years, the total amount awarded will be $7,023,252, with the first-year funding at $1,012,347. This school-university-district partnership grant is a systemic approach to building an educator pathway to enhance the recruitment, preparation, induction, and retention of teachers and teacher leaders across the teacher pipeline in a high-need school district.

“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. "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 five components that will help develop and diversify the educator workforce. These components 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, and school principal learning through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), an M.Ed., and an Educational Doctorate in Educational Leadership offered through UNF. Each component will be aligned with the infusion of 10 PREP research-based strands for equity and inclusion.

The project also utilizes a high-quality, sustainable, Professional Development School model to provide professional learning opportunities to current and future teachers and teacher leaders, while maintaining a demonstrated commitment to diversity and equity. In doing so, PREP seeks to prepare diverse teachers to graduate and obtain high-need certifications, retain teachers in high-need schools, prepare school leaders to develop teachers and build a positive school environment, and develop a systemic approach to foster equitable teaching outcomes.

PREP will also seek to inform research in the field by studying the impact of teachers and leaders on students’ performance and the social-emotional needs of underserved students. PREP will be led by the principal investigator Dr. Rebecca West Burns, Bill Herrold Endowed Professor and Director of Clinical Practice and Partnerships; and co-principal investigators, Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey, former College of Education and Human Services Dean and current Professor; Dr. Lunetta Williams (Professor); and Dr. Megan Lynch (Postdoctoral Fellow and Urban Education Scholars Program Coordinator). Jennifer Shepard, Clay County School District Supervisor of Professional Learning, and Shaundricka Hope, Clay County and UNF Resident Clinical Faculty will also serve on the leadership team.

“We are ecstatic at the news of this award,” stated Dr. Rebecca Burns. “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.”