The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is funding a program to help students in Red River and other rural parishes in Northwest Louisiana. Northwestern State University’s Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development was one of 13 Louisiana teacher preparation programs to receive a Believe and Prepare grant from BESE. This round of grants focuses specifically on classrooms that serve students with disabilities and those in rural areas of Louisiana.
The $415,000 grant will enable faculty in NSU’s College of Education to recruit educators to work in rural schools in DeSoto, Grant, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine and West Carroll parishes. In addition to tapping community members who are interested in teaching but are not yet certified, the program plans to partner with several districts to engage high school juniors and seniors. The initiatives are called Providing Opportunities for Rural Teachers (PORT) and Providing Opportunities for Rural Students (PORS).
“Over 60 percent of teachers teach within 20 miles of where they went to high school,” said Ramona Wynder, principal investigator of the two NSU initiatives, citing Dan Brown, co-director of national network Educators Rising. “Therefore, PORT will be marketed to paraprofessionals, long-term substitutes and other aspiring teachers with deep roots in the community. And PORS will help encourage high school students to pursue careers in education in hopes they will return to their home communities to live and work.”
“This innovative work allows communities to assist in the recruitment and development of teachers to meet their current and future workforce needs,” said Dr. Kimberly McAlister, head of the Department of Teaching, Leadership and Counseling.