Tusculum’s initiatives to develop more people of color as teachers earn praise from national organization

GREENEVILLETusculum University’s commitment to helping students of color become teachers has earned recognition from a national organization focused on attaining an effective and diverse teacher workforce.

Dr. Miriam Stroder

The National Council on Teacher Quality named Tusculum as one of 89 education institutions in the United States that exhibit equity and excellence in licensure exam pass rates for aspiring teachers of color. Tusculum was the only institution in Tennessee and one of only 20 chosen across the country for also being less selective in its admissions decision-making but having alumni achieve high pass rates.

“This recognition is a testament to our faculty and staff members who collaborate to help our students become teachers,” said Dr. Miriam Stroder, dean of the College of Education. “It also honors all of the other staff and administrators within the university who contribute to equipping our students to be career-ready professionals. Moreover, this accomplishment reflects the hard work and perseverance of our students, who have accepted the call to be a teacher.”

The NCTQ said in a July report that the 89 institutions have a couple of distinctions in common. First, little or no disparity in pass rates exists between aspiring teachers of color and white aspiring teachers at the institution. Second, test takers of color achieve greater success on licensure exams compared to the average pass rate for everyone across the state.

In East Tennessee, the populations of communities and the numbers of students in education programs are heavily white. Dr. Stroder is one of the educators seeking to increase the number of students of color who elect to enter the teaching profession. The NCTQ said in its report that this is important because evidence points to students of color benefiting short term and long term from having a same-race teacher.

“While the teacher workforce has become more racially diverse over the years, it has not kept pace with the far more rapidly diversifying student population,” the organization said. “Bringing more teachers of color into the classroom is a priority yet remains a challenging goal to achieve.”

Dr. Stroder said Tusculum’s College of Education is dedicated to helping all students reach their goals of becoming teachers. That includes students of color, who Dr. Stroder said have concluded their studies at Tusculum and passed their licensure exams at impressive rates.

One of the university’s strengths is faculty members who expend considerable effort getting to know all of their students, communicating extensively with them, hearing their concerns and modifying teaching methods when necessary to ensure students understand the concepts.

Combine this direct method of assistance with other programs at Tusculum, such as Student Support Services for traditional students and Adults Reaching Career Heights and Educational Success for adult and online students. Both of these are free programs for first-generation, income-eligible students. Then, add Tusculum’s tutoring services, which help students achieve positive academic results.

Dr. Stroder said these measures are a recipe for success.

“We go above and beyond what is required to take into account each student’s needs and facilitate a meaningful and rigorous learning experience that will benefit them in their teaching practices and personal lives,” she said. “Taking this helpful approach also provides a framework for our students to use when they become teachers.”

The College of Education’s alumni survey for 2021 shows exceedingly high percentages of satisfaction with the college’s operations. The college also enjoys exceptionally high ratings of these alumni’s performance from their employers as being at or above expectations.

“We are proud of our students in the teacher education program and the faculty and staff members who are preparing them for success,” said Dr. Scott Hummel, Tusculum’s president. “Our alumni are also demonstrating the caliber of our College of Education through their excellent performance in the classroom. We are proud to be at the forefront of increasing the number of students of color who enter the teaching profession well equipped to be outstanding teachers.”

For more information about the College of Education, please visit https://web.tusculum.edu/collegeofeducation/.