Lipscomb University's College of Education focuses on preparing candidates for the classrooms of today and tomorrow. As such, we are focused on increasing diversity in the teacher education pipeline to better match the P-12 student population of America's schools in addition to the student population found in our local community. Lipscomb supports this mission by providing a number of scholarship opportunities for students from diverse or underrepresented backgrounds. In addition, Lipscomb's Pionero Scholars program draws local students from a diverse community who are interested in becoming teachers. The Pionero Scholars Program is a scholarship and outreach program at Lipscomb that seeks to increase the number of local students who enroll at Lipscomb, with the long-term goal of creating a local pipeline of students returning to teach in their home communities. This initiative by Lipscomb began in the fall of 2015, with the generous support of a local foundation. Our long-term goal is to create a "grow-your-own" pipeline and graduate more local teachers returning to teach in Metro Nashville Public Schools. We believe that the best way to recruit future teachers is to create a local pipeline of students who have grown up in Nashville and understand diversity in our local context. We want our students to be successful in college, as individuals, and in their future teaching careers. There are many extra supports for Pionero students, such as a faculty or staff mentor in their first two years and a current teacher mentor in their second two years.
At Lipscomb University, undergraduate and graduate faculty collaborated over the past year to redesign the literacy instruction and experiences for our candidates. Previously, our candidates already participated in a semester-long course on teaching Reading and Language Arts while completing a corresponding practicum experience. This experience allowed initial-licensure candidates to practice co-teaching the literacy strategies, assessments, and curricula learned in the course. As a result of our redesign, we added an additional course for our initial-licensure candidates to focus on literacy in the content areas. The course, Teaching with Text, allows candidates to learn and practice literacy strategies, lesson plans, and assessments in non-ELA content areas. As a result of our redesign, we added an additional course for our initial-licensure candidates to focus on disciplinary literacy in the content areas. The skills and tools practiced in these literacy-specific courses also allow candidates to use strategies needed for Praxis and edTPA success. Our candidates have noted that this explicit preparation has supported their success with licensure assessments and first-year classroom experiences.