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York College of PA awarded $94,530 grant from PA Department of Education to support teacher, principal prep

March 16, 2023
Teacher teaching her students in a classroom

York College of Pennsylvania received a $94,530 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to support teacher and principal preparation.

Through its Innovative Teacher Prep2Practice Grant Program, the Department of Education has awarded funds to stimulate the creation of innovative and cohesive clinical experiences for teachers that make connections across the three stages of clinical experience – first-year candidates, during capstone clinicals, and induction.

“The Teacher Prep2Practice program is focused on making sure that all the stages of clinical field experience – from early field through student teaching and teacher induction – include instruction that better addresses culturally relevant competencies,” said Dr. Stacey Dammann, Dean of the School of Behavioral Sciences and Education. “Those competencies prepare teachers ahead of time for the diversity they are going to see in today’s classrooms – the particular things that can become classroom issues when teachers are not prepared to address ethnicity, religion, etc.”

The funding will allow York College to leverage its institutional resources to achieve four central goals, according to Dammann.  

  1. Expand the frequency and quality of experiential learning opportunities for preservice teachers during early stages of clinical experience
  2. Develop an Aspiring Teachers program that will enhance and diversify the new teacher pipeline
  3. Integrate SchoolSims (simulations for school leaders and teachers) across all stages of clinical experience
  4. Enhance engagements with Local Education Agencies (LEAs) through collaboration in the Aspiring Teachers program and Careers That Make a Difference events, as well as by providing scholarships to the Master Teacher Program and increasing teacher-leaders in partner districts

York College is working with the York County Alliance for Learning (YCAL) to recruit 20 to 25 high school sophomores from four LEAs, or partner districts, for activities and bonding opportunities. “We are trying to do more with our LEAs to bring high school students to campus for career experiences,” said Dammann. “This is about breaking down barriers, bringing students on campus for the first time, particularly those who really aren’t considering that this might be an option for them.”

Last year the School of Behavioral Sciences and Education held its first two-day Careers That Make a Difference Days. High school students from York County, Lancaster and surrounding LEAs were invited to spend a day at York College exploring career opportunities in the fields of Psychology, Education, Criminology and Criminal Justice, and related applied behavioral sciences, such as Human Services and Recreation Leadership.

High school students participated in engaging activities to provide information on career opportunities in these fields with York College faculty and current students, followed by lunch and a campus tour. “This was a first on-campus experience for some of the high school guests, and the grant will fund part of this event again in Fall 2023,” Dammann said.

The College’s plan also includes bringing York College graduates to talk with groups of students about being a diverse teacher, Dammann said. “We have some really great teachers who have joined systems in urban and suburban areas who can talk with our students and say ‘these are the things we are working to change and address in education.’ It will also address the students’ need to see someone who looks like them and can help them navigate the education curriculum wherever they choose to study.”

In addition, this program also involves increasing the number of teacher leaders in LEAs by having school principals or superintendents identify capable teachers who are not yet school leaders to join a Master Teacher Program and come to events with mentees. “We are giving districts the opportunity to identify somebody who may not see themselves as a leader,” Dammann said. “They will enhance the teacher leadership in the schools. Students will have both someone in their building and people here at York College who can support them.”

For students who choose to study at York College, SchoolSIMS will be used throughout their experience, particularly in the preservice curriculum, to prepare them to meet the state’s cultural competencies, Dammann said. “SchoolSIMS provides a scenario, and students enter that scenario as an Avatar and respond to different things. Depending on how they respond, that drives what else happens in the scenario. If they don’t get an accepted result, they can go back in and do things differently to drive a different result. It’s much more engaging and it gets to those cultural competencies.”

“I love this grant, because its focus areas hit multiple things,” said Dammann. “These are all tied together in a grant that encourages more diversity in the teacher pipeline, helps our current preservice teachers better prepare for the wide range of students in today’s classrooms, and identifies and provides training to teacher leaders in our partner schools that can serve as mentors to these new Aspiring Teachers.”