UWA receives record $6.5 million for educating new Alabama teachers

November 10, 2020 |

Rural School's Collaborative Hub Partner The University of West Alabama has been awarded $6.5 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education for a teacher residency project, Project REACh, that will be led by the Tutwiler College of Education. Project REACh, Residencies for Educating Alabama’s Children, will be a $13-million-dollar project for prospective Alabama’s educators. The funding will be disbursed over a five-year period.

This is the largest single grant award that UWA has received to date.

“We could not be more proud of the team that has developed Project REACh, particularly the College of Education, in collaboration with UWA’s Office of Sponsored Programs and Research,” said UWA President Ken Tucker. “This is a model of innovation and responsive leadership that sets UWA apart in our efforts to effectively address the needs of the region we serve. With the support of this grant award, UWA is ultimately investing $13 million in Alabama’s families by way of quality teacher education and career-strengthening opportunities.”

“Project REACh will recruit, train, and graduate 60 diverse, highly effective teachers who are well prepared to teach in Alabama’s high-need schools,” explained Dr. Jan Miller, Dean of the College of Education at UWA.

UWA has partnered with three school systems for Project REACh: Mobile County Public School System, Tuscaloosa County School System, and University Charter School. Schools within these systems were selected based in part on their designation as qualified opportunity zones.

UWA announces TQP grant to partners
UWA's College of Education announces the TQP grant award to partners virtually (click to play)

“We look forward to partnering with UWA’s Project REACh to attract more teachers to Mobile County Public Schools, particularly in some of our schools that have experienced a shortage of teaching applicants,” said MCPSS Superintendent Chresal D. Threadgill. “This is an innovative approach to tackle the nationwide teacher shortage. This will give us the opportunity to train and get to know these teachers during their 14-month residency and to ultimately hire them. It is a program that will truly benefit our students.”

“At Tuscaloosa County Schools, we’re honored to be a part of the newly awarded Project REACh grant with UWA,” said Superintendent Keri C. Johnson. “We are excited to have this opportunity to recruit and retain quality teachers while also receiving valuable professional development through the grant. We look forward to participating in this program as we continue to partner with UWA to recruit, retain, and support teachers.

“University Charter School is very excited to add this innovative component to our existing partnership with UWA,” said Head of School, Dr. JJ Wedgworth. “Like many schools in Alabama, UCS faces challenges related to the rural teacher shortage, and Project REACh provides a unique solution that will create a high-quality teacher pipeline into our rural classrooms. This will positively impact student outcomes and make a lasting impression on our community.”

The initiative is designed to improve the achievement of K-12 students, reducing the achievement gaps in literacy, mathematics, STEM and computer science. By preparing teacher mentors who are skilled in working with clinical residents to improve their practice, host schools’ capacity to provide high quality clinical experiences for preservice teachers will result in increased teacher effectiveness. The residency program will establish and design a clinically-rich teacher preparation program grounded in evidence-based practices.

New teachers will benefit from a sustainable induction program in their first two years of teaching, followed by a retention program for certified career teachers.

The United States Department of Education, Teacher Quality Partnership program, funded $6.5 million (50 percent) of the $13 million UWA Project REACh grant award; UWA and other non-Federal funds match this funding.

To learn more about UWA’s Project REACh, email projectreach@uwa.edu or call Project Director, Susan Hester at 205-652-5426.

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