Dear USF Community,
Since rejoining the University of South Florida as Dean of the College of Education just 10 weeks ago, an ongoing theme emerged in my conversations with stakeholders, alumni, university leadership, and community partners across all three campuses: Our community members believe graduates from USF’s College of Education make an impactful difference across the Tampa Bay region and beyond, and our graduates are frequently sought after to serve in various roles across the field of education.
It is clear to me that the community is eager to know how the college will continue to address ongoing challenges facing the field of education generally—specifically in the area of the K-12 teaching profession. To continue our forward momentum in this space, I will be asking the college and the community to re-engage in conversations with the USF College of Education regarding multiple areas, including:
- Innovative curricular & instructional improvements.
- Teacher candidate internship placements, based on school district needs.
- Reducing barriers to district research and data access.
- Disseminating research results to the district and education partners.
- How we can utilize research results to improve academic opportunities for students and professional development for educators.
- How to continue systematic engagement opportunities that allow our district-university partnerships—and academic opportunities for students—to flourish.
I am excited to share with you some of the initiatives that are currently in discussion
to attract accomplished, articulate, and passionate individuals to the education profession
and to USF’s College of Education.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives
The College of Education has launched multiple initiatives to enhance diversity, ensure inclusion, and provide additional pathways for prospective undergraduate students to enter the field of education. Below are examples of two programs that align with this area of strategic emphasis.
- Mathematics, Engineering, Science, and Achievement (MESA): The MESA program has a
proven track record of more than 50 years in engaging educationally disadvantaged
students and encouraging them to pursue careers within science, technology, engineering,
and mathematics (STEM). For all three campuses, the College of Education currently
is in the process of developing a proposal to host a Florida chapter of the MESA program
at USF, to help attract more individuals to STEM careers, including teaching in STEM
- Call Me MiSTER: Hosted at USF’s St. Petersburg campus, USF’s chapter of Call Me MiSTER recruits men of color from diverse backgrounds to complete a teacher preparation program at USF and earn their initial teacher certification. Conducted in partnership with Pinellas County Schools, the goal of the program is to increase the number of male teachers of color who go onto teach in urban school settings.
Strengthened Partnerships with School District Partners
We are incredibly grateful to our school district partners for their ongoing collaboration with the College of Education’s faculty and leadership team. Their feedback has been crucial as we redesign our undergraduate programs and expand opportunities available to our students.
Over the past year, the college’s leadership team has engaged in ongoing discussions with our partner superintendents through virtual roundtables, monthly discussions in which we explore top of mind topics and discuss solutions for ongoing issues in our local school districts, such as teacher recruitment and retention. I look forward to continuing these conversations in the coming months so we can ensure the College of Education’s programs are best aligned with the needs of the school districts who employ many of our graduates each year.
Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Teacher Preparation Programs
We are in the process of redesigning our undergraduate teacher preparation programs to provide our students with opportunities to participate in immersive field experiences as soon as they begin their undergraduate studies at USF. Our vision for these efforts is to ensure that our students feel an instant connection with the teaching profession and begin preparing themselves for their future careers as soon as they arrive at the university.
A Realigned Focus for the College of Education’s Honors Program
The College of Education’s honors program—known by many USF alumni as the SunCoast Area Teacher Training (SCATT) program—has served for more than 40 years as a magnet for high-achieving students who aspire to become leaders within the teaching profession. The program is undergoing an in-depth review and realignment to meet the desires of current and prospective USF students while also meeting the needs of our school district partners. Additional details about this realigned vision for the program will be shared at the program’s 40th Reunion Celebration in spring 2022.
As we complete our five-year strategic and budget planning in the spring, there will be more news to share from the USF College of Education. We anticipate discussing new investments in innovative technology, graduate students and graduate programs, and international research exchange programs. All of these efforts, with increased input from students, staff, and faculty, will continue to provide additional opportunities for success as our college continues to be locally engaged, nationally respected, and globally involved.
Thank you for your continued support of our work here at the University of South Florida.
In Bull Pride,
R. Anthony Rolle, PhD
Professor and Dean
College of Education