WSU Dream Keepers
An educator acquires a wealth of knowledge after studying specific discipline areas. This knowledge can be acquired through experiences as well as formal training in an educator preparation program. Educators bring their valuable skills to their respective preparation programs that enrich the learning experience. The WSU Dream Keepers Urban Teacher Residency Program at Wayne State University (WSU) embraces all of these components.
The program is a partnership with the Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD), the Michigan Department of Education Professional Preparation Unit (PPL), and the WSU College of Education to certify substitute teachers who have shown their dedication to the district through years of service. The program is committed to increasing diversity in teaching, providing potential teachers the tools to be successful educators, and providing our children with a quality Michigan educator who will proudly serve. In the spirit of our #proudMIeducator momentum going, we asked individuals that were involved in the implementation to share their thoughts on the program.
What makes the WSU Dream Keepers program unique?
- Rajah Smart, Michigan Department of Education
For the WSU Dream Keepers program to receive state approval, the PPL unit collaborated with WSU to deliver an experimental teacher preparation program. A specific waiver of state administrative rule allows the program to incorporate the teachers' work experience and possible previous credits toward certification requirements. Participants serve as teaching residents in their respective classrooms for two years with the hopes of remaining in the classroom after completion of the program. Through intensive coaching and clinical instruction, candidates earn a certificate at the conclusion. The collaboration between WSU, DPSCD, community partners, and the PPL unit makes each entity accountable for its success. This alone makes the Dream Keepers special.
- Leah van Belle, Wayne State University
One of the amazing aspects of the program is that it allows individuals who have been deeply committed to Detroit, our children, and DPSCD to continue serving our community and families while training to become certified teachers. From the first day of the program, the WSU Dream Keeper residents brought so much experience with them— some had been substitute teachers in the district for more than 15 years and their passion for their work and the assets they brought with them as emerging educators were evident from the first seminar. Culturally sustaining pedagogy is at the heart of WSU Dream Keepers; it has been inspiring to see and hear how the program residents are drawing on their personal, professional, and cultural experiences to be enacting this in their residency classrooms.
We're also tremendously excited that the WSU Dream Keepers program is addressing the need for increasing diversity in the teaching workforce. Fewer than 17% of teachers nationally are teachers of color, and fewer than 2% are Black males. There's an urgent need for all children to have diverse teachers and the WSU Dream Keepers program is providing a pathway to certification for an entire cohort of teaching residents of color.
- Sandra M. Gonzales, Wayne State University
Most importantly, the students in the WSU Dream Keepers program make it unique. Many are native Detroiters who are also Detroit Public Schools' alumni themselves. They are dedicated to their students and deeply passionate about the continued development of the city and the Detroit Public Schools Community District.
Why are you proud to be part of the WSU Dream Keepers program?
– Rajah Smart, Michigan Department of Education
As representatives of the Michigan Department of Education, the PPL unit feels a great level of satisfaction when an opportunity presents itself to create a program in partnership. Thus, to recognize the moving pieces and create a program that connects those items is an incredible feat. We are most proud of the impact the program can make for education – both for the participants as well as their future students.
On a personal note, as an African-American male, it was incredible to see so many African-Americans excited pursuing teacher certification.
-Leah van Belle, Wayne State University
I'm proud to be a teacher educator in a program that is a true partnership— a collaboration to create an innovative urban teacher education model. I'm proud of the deep commitment and enthusiasm everyone has brought to this program, all in the name of preparing urban teachers so urgently needed as we face a teaching shortage for our children in Detroit. I'm humbled every day by the inspiring things I see happening in schools and our community. Detroit is an amazing city and an amazing place to teach and learn!
- Sandra M. Gonzales, Wayne State University
I teach the first class in the WSU Dream Keeper's program called, "Equity and Inclusion in Diverse Urban Education Settings." I'm really proud of the way this cohort has developed into a supportive community -The sharing, the stories, the questions, the deep analysis, as well as the way the students validate and uplift each other is so inspiring to witness and be a part of.
#proudMIeducator is a Michigan Department of Education initiative that aims to acknowledge, elevate, and celebrate great educators in the State of Michigan. The Proud Michigan Educator campaign welcomes the participation of any supporters who want to celebrate Michigan educators.
For more information, visit: www.michigan.gov/proudMIeducator
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