MTSU’s Quest for Student Success is a campus wide initiative focused on student-centered support services in order to prepare students to thrive in their chosen professions and a changing global society. The College of Education has implemented multiple strategic initiatives to ensure student success while at MTSU and beyond. One such initiative is the ASPIRE to Teach grant established in 2014 in response to the growing number of students whose short-term financial challenges threaten to derail their pathway to teaching. ASPIRE to Teach provides small financial grants to teacher candidates, particularly during the Residency semesters, so that they may continue their education at MTSU while working toward their goal of becoming a professional educator. Made possible entirely through donations, funds are available to undergraduate, graduate and international students, and are awarded as grants that do not have to be repaid. By 2016, an ASPIRE endowment of over $50,000 had been established. Another initiative is the Clothing Our Educators Boutique to help future teachers dress for success for interviews and teaching careers. The boutique provides professional clothing at no cost to students in the residency portion of the teacher preparation program. In order to provide a global perspective to teaching, MTSU teacher candidates have a unique opportunity to study abroad in Singapore or spend a portion of their student teaching semester overseas through the Consortium of Overseas Student Teaching (COST) program. Our students have student taught in countries such as in Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Ireland, Mexico, and South Africa.
The MTSU College of Education partners with 43 school districts through strong collaboration focusing on connecting the education and preparation of teacher candidates and P-12 schools. This connection is essential for improving student achievement and candidates’ readiness to teach. Input from district partners informs programmatic decisions that support teacher learning and performance, as well as program improvements that effectively address district, school, and student needs. The MTSU Teacher Education Advisory Council comprised of district administrators, teachers, students, community members, and university faculty from all EPP colleges across campus provides input regarding teacher candidate preparation program design and policy. Rutherford County Schools (RCS) and Murfreesboro City Schools (MCS) have been indispensable in the preparation of MTSU teacher candidates by providing professional development opportunities on RTI², TEAM, Professional Learning Communities, Co-Teaching, Literacy, Technology, TVAAS, COMP, and employability. Input from these partners was essential in the redesign of curriculum to address teacher candidates’ readiness to teach in today’s classrooms. MTSU and school district personnel work together in a variety ways, such as accreditation, interview committees, and professional development. In addition to TEAM, edTPA, and Disposition assessments used to evaluate teacher candidates, mentor teachers who work directly with MTSU teacher candidates complete the Assessment of Student Teacher Preparation (ASTP) on each candidate during clinical placements. The ASTP assessment focuses on how well the candidate was prepared to teach including knowledge, skill, practice, and professionalism. These multiple data sources provide critical information to strengthen candidate clinical experiences enabling districts to hire effective new teachers.