Southwest Minnesota Teacher Preparation Partnership is a unique, place-based career pathway model created by Worthington Public School District, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Southwest Minnesota State University and Southwest Initiative Foundation. The partnership aims to increase the diverse pool of quality teacher candidates in the region. It is also focused on what it takes to support students who want to teach, especially students of color who aren’t often seeing teachers who look like them in their classrooms.
“The Teacher Preparation Partnership understands we can help eliminate barriers by working together, increasing the diversity of our teaching pool and ultimately making a long-term impact on the Worthington area and the southwest Minnesota region,” said Worthington High School Principal Josh Noble.
Southwest Minnesota Teacher Preparation Partnership began by offering an “Introduction to Education” course in 2017. It’s a concurrent enrollment course, meaning students have the opportunity earn college credit by taking a high school class. Approximately 65 students have taken the intro to education class, gaining knowledge about the education profession and having the opportunity to serve 15-20 hours of field experience at Prairie Elementary and Worthington Middle School.
The teacher partnership is now in its third year of implementation, and excitement around the pathway continues to grow. For the 2020 spring semester, the partnership has added a Minnesota West concurrent enrollment class: “Technology in Education” gives students an opportunity to develop their teaching skills by exploring computer applications as tools for learning, ethics of electronic communications and building a teaching portfolio.
Part of the success in generating interest in these classes is Worthington High School’s Future Teachers of America club (FTA), which exposes students in grades 9 through 12 to several aspects of the world of education. Patrick Mahoney is the FTA advisor and teaches both teacher pathway classes.
Members of the FTA club recently gained invaluable experiences by attending the Aspiring Educators Day at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) and providing tours of the Worthington High School campus to SMSU President Kumara Jayasuriya and Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra, along with Southwest Initiative Foundation staff.
“At the heart of it, the partnership is an opportunity to lead people on a career path that will provide higher earning potential for their families, address the teacher shortage in rural communities, and have a positive impact on students who will finally see their reflection at the front of the classroom,” said Nancy Fasching, vice president of impact at Southwest Initiative Foundation.
“All the partners are devoted to making this happen. We see what a difference this will make in the lives of students and future educators. It’s bigger than all of us, and a look to the long term.” Nancy Fasching
The Teacher Pathway program is supported in large part by grant funding and resource sharing from the McKnight Foundation, the Greater Twins Cities United Way and Southwest Initiative Foundation. Initial grants from the McKnight Foundation and Southwest Initiative Foundation funded planning efforts and the launch of the Future Teachers of America Club. The McKnight Foundation then awarded an additional $600,000 grant over two years to support the partnership.
Pathways to successful careers for our kids is a critical part of Grow Our Own and helping our kids reach their full potential. Read about another career pathway program in Windom.