Education Programs in UR's School of Professional & Continuing Studies Receive More than $400K in Grant Support

Funding Will Support Teacher Training in High Poverty Schools and Partners in the Arts
December 9, 2021

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — The University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies has been awarded two grants from the R.E.B Foundation to support two professional education programs — The PLuS program and Partners in the Arts.

The R.E.B. Foundation supports education, music, and the arts, as well as the revitalization of underprivileged inner cities and neighborhoods.

One R.E.B. grant will provide up to $386,322 over two years for the Provisional License Support Program (PLuS) for the development of new teachers in high poverty schools.

The PluS program includes two initiatives — the School-Based Teacher Education Program (STEP) and Teacher Licensure Completion (TLC). Together, these initiatives address inexperienced and provisionally-licensed teachers in Richmond region schools with a high population of students from low-income families. The programs include coaching support, academic advising, professional learning, and mentorship.  

The STEP program provides a paid year-long residency for UR graduate students dedicated to working in high poverty schools. This opportunity is an alternative to the traditional unpaid 15-week student teaching experience. 

“Upon successful completion of the residency year, newly licensed graduates receive monthly mentoring support from education faculty for an additional year,” said Deborah Napoli, director of clinical practice and coordinator of the STEP residency. “This grant funding will allow faculty to study, improve, and share the STEP model statewide, so it will benefit not only our program but others across the Commonwealth.”

The TLC Program is a new initiative designed to provide support for inexperienced new teachers through instructional mentoring and advising support. Grant funding will provide provisionally licensed teachers a reduced rate on course work needed to complete licensure requirements. 

“There is a teacher shortage across our nation. Here in Virginia, many teachers currently have provisional licenses, which allow anyone with a non-education undergraduate degree to begin teaching, and they have three years to complete required teacher preparation courses,” said Laura Kuti, assistant chair of teacher education who oversees TLC. “We have inexperienced teachers with no foundation of teacher preparation courses in our classrooms. Our program encourages retention in the teaching profession through mentoring support and financial assistance.”

The Partners in the Arts (PIA) program, which focuses on improving instructional practice and connecting educators and students to the region’s arts and cultural community, will also benefit from a $15,000 R.E.B. Foundation grant to support “The Integrating Sound: Listening to our Communities” project. “Integrating Sound” will support teams of teachers and teaching artists working side-by-side through integrative teaching training, project planning and design, and in-school implementation.

The project will incorporate listening activities, sound art, and music to explore curricular content and is an extension of the Joan Oates Institute, which is held annually at the University of Richmond. This integrated approach to instruction engages students in alternative ways of learning and empowers teachers to use their interests and passions in their teaching. 

“Students are always learning, and by connecting what they are seeing and listening to in their communities to what they are studying in the classroom, we can tap into the process of experiential learning,” said Rob McAdams, PIA director.

“We believe that when teachers receive intentional support and development, they are better equipped to meet the learning needs of the young people in their classrooms,” said Jamelle Wilson, dean of the School of Professional & Continuing Studies. “This strong support from the R.E.B. Foundation for these education programs is paramount to making sure the teachers in our region have access to meaningful and enriching educational opportunities that will make a difference for them and for their students.”