By Valerie Green, Human Capital Team Member at Green Dot Public Schools
At Green Dot Public Schools, we’ve been thinking about how to support and foster passionate, dedicated, and effective teachers since our founding more than 15 years ago. Doing so is part of our DNA, and it is what inspired our Adelante Teacher Credentialing Program. In partnership with Loyola Marymount University (LMU), Adelante is a one-year program that enables participants to earn a California teaching credential at a reduced cost, join Green Dot’s teaching ranks immediately, and be given preference for LMU’s Master’s program with a 30% reduction of tuition.
“In the program, teachers are expected to blend theory and practice to support the achievement of K-12 students,” explains Prof. Edmundo Edward F. Litton of LMU’s School of Education.
The Adelante program is unique because candidates are committed to, and working in, Green Dot’s Schools. Cohort members take classes related to teaching methodology, literacy, assessment, and working effectively with English Learners and students with Special Needs.
Among the elements that make Adelante different, Prof. Litton said, is that many of the courses are taught by Green Dot Education Team members. And the instruction is tailored specifically to Green Dot’s schools and students. “We focused the Literacy in the Content Areas course on providing teachers with instruction in signature literacy strategies,” says Lara Goldstone, a Green Dot Curriculum Specialist and Adelante course instructor. “Cohort members are expected to use these strategies at their school sites, which helps guide teachers to analyze student data using Green Dot reports.”
New year, same problem
Throughout 2016, school districts up and down California -- from its southern coast to northern inland valley -- struggled with a common problem: hiring and retaining teachers. Some districts tried to address the issue by offering signing bonuses or covering relocation costs. In the most drastic cases, districts hired teachers without appropriate credentials.
As 2017 kicks off, California remains mired in a teacher shortage conundrum. A survey last fall by the Learning Policy Institute, a California-based research organization, found that 75% of school districts had trouble filling positions to begin the school year. More than eight in 10 said the problem was getting worse.
And the problem is most acute for districts that serve students of color, children of low-income neighborhoods, or English learners -- about 83% of those districts, compared to about 55% with the lowest concentration of high-needs students reported recruitment problems.
Partnership with Loyola Marymount University
“But perhaps what’s most exceptional is how Green Dot and LMU are working together to address the teacher shortage problem”, says Manny A. Aceves, Associate Dean in LMU’s School of Education. “It is important for us to partner because it is the right way to prepare educators,” Aceves explains.
There are many goals for the program, but here a few important objectives:
- Provide an alternative approach to teacher credentialing; one where a candidate is hired as full-time employee of GDPS but also earning his or her preliminary teaching credential by LMU.
- Recruit and credential teachers who are committed to the visions and missions of both GDPS and LMU.
- Collaboration between the two organizations will encourage more impact through the program by ensuring there is cohesion between what is learned in a teacher preparation program and with what is practiced at a school.
Supporting newcomers to teaching
The first Adelante class of 13 students started in fall of 2016 and will grow to 25 students next year. The program celebrates helping Green Dot alumni and employees become teachers in the communities they either grew up in, or currently serve. "Our cohort is diverse in experience and includes candidates from inside and outside of Green Dot. Finding the balance of Green Dot stakeholders and new talent is really part of the Adelante program’s focus," says Julia Fisher, Coordinator of Educator Effectiveness.
Prior to becoming an Adelante cohort member, David Matthews was a paraprofessional at Green Dot’s Ánimo Phillis Wheatley Charter Middle School, during which time he became familiar with Green Dot's model, observed and collaborated with teachers, and developed an unwavering commitment to the students at his school and in the community.
“When I became a teacher this fall, I had no idea what or how much it would take to be successful in my first year,” says Matthews.
“From time management, to building systems and procedures, to curriculum and planning, the support of LMU and Green Dot has helped me be successful at work while also encouraging me to find the right work-life balance.”
The Adelante program is just the latest in a history of collaborations between LMU and Green Dot that date to Green Dot’s founding.
“The partnership is moving that relationship to a new level,” Aceves says. “There is so much excitement and synergy in this work because we are committed to the same ideals: ensuring we work together to prepare a quality teacher, and ensure that the teacher is making a difference in the lives of those that we are serving here in the Los Angeles region.”