MACON/ATLANTA – Mercer University’s Tift College of Education will partner with five local school districts on a three-year, $9.6 million U.S. Department of Education grant project aimed at strengthening the teacher pipeline in order to increase and diversify the teaching workforce.
The award is the largest federal grant in the history of the College of Education, which was formed by the merger of Tift College with Mercer in 1986 and is the largest private preparer of teachers and other educators in Georgia.
The grant project, titled “Georgia Educators Networking to Revolutionize and Transform Education (GENERATE),” will develop a residency program for career changers to obtain Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) degrees, become certified teachers in Georgia and teach in high-need content areas within partner school districts.
Five partner school districts include Bibb, Clayton, Pike and Twiggs counties, as well as Dublin City Schools. Dalton State College is also a partner on the grant.
“Education is the cornerstone on which to build hope and a future for the next generations,” said Dr. Loleta Sartin, associate dean for academic affairs and strategic engagement in the College of Education, who serves as principal investigator on the grant. “Writing this grant was a labor of love with the primary goal of expanding and strengthening our support of Georgia schools by preparing more qualified, innovative educators.
“My colleagues and I are excited about the GENERATE project; however, we are most excited about the impact the project will have on the lives of P-12 students. We thank the U.S. Department of Education for entrusting us and these school districts and their superintendents for partnering with us.”
The GENERATE project will pay career changers, who have worked in another career field or majored in another field besides education, a living wage stipend of $30,000 while they pursue teacher certification, participate in the yearlong residency and obtain their master’s degree. Additionally, they will receive three years of mentoring to enhance their effectiveness in the classroom.
Residents will participate in professional development focused on computer science and cybersecurity training and testing certifications, holistic development and sustaining instruction for diverse communities.
In addition to more than 170 career changers who will participate in the residency program, professional development will also be offered to at least 400 teacher mentors and 120 traditional undergraduate education students from Mercer and Dalton State.
GENERATE will impact more than 92,000 P-12 students over a five-year period, which will have a profound effect on addressing the state’s teacher shortage.
“Clayton County Public Schools is honored to partner with Mercer University through the GENERATE project as we work together to cultivate teacher pipelines and improve diversity throughout the field of education,” said Dr. Morcease J. Beasley, superintendent and CEO of schools in Clayton County. “Nationally, education has experienced a shortage of individuals aspiring to become classroom teachers, and I believe this project is a much-needed step in the right direction to strengthen and diversify the talent pool. Our school system is proud to support this endeavor.”
“As a district, we are committed to recruiting and retaining highly qualified educators from diverse backgrounds,” added Dr. Dan Sims, superintendent of the Bibb County School District. “Our longstanding partnership with Mercer University has always been fruitful, and we are delighted to be included in the GENERATE project. This will provide further avenues to ensure that our teachers represent the diversity of the students we serve.”
In addition to Dr. Sartin, co-principal investigators on the grant include Shannon Mitchell, director of assessment in Tift College of Education; Dr. Sharon Hixon, dean and professor of education at Dalton State College; Dr. N. Jean Walker, assistant professor of clinical practice in Tift College of Education; Dr. Johnathan Yerby, associate professor of computer science in Mercer’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Dr. Cynthia Anderson, assistant professor of teacher education in Tift College of Education; and Dr. Tracey Wofford, graduate academic adviser, recruiter and instructor in Tift College of Education.
Upon completion of the three-year grant project, Mercer will continue to offer the M.A.T. cohort model supported by mentors and computer science and cybersecurity modules, and GENERATE will continue with an annual summit allowing residents and students to present what they have learned and discuss cutting-edge research with faculty and the larger educational community.
About the College of Education
Mercer University’s Tift College of Education – with campuses in Macon, Atlanta and the University’s two regional academic centers – prepares more professional educators than any other private institution in Georgia. Named for the former women’s college that merged with Mercer in 1986, the College of Education offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and is guided by the conceptual framework of the “Transforming Educator,” which supports those who aspire to grow professionally throughout their careers, while also seeking to transform the lives of students. For more information, visit education.mercer.edu.
Featured photo: From left, Dr. Cynthia Anderson, Dr. N. Jean Walker, Shannon Mitchell, Twiggs County Superintendent Dr. Mack H. Bullard, Bibb County Superintendent Dr. Dan A. Sims, Clayton County Superintendent and CEO of Schools Dr. Morcease J. Beasley, Dr. Loleta Sartin, Dr. Johnathan Yerby and Dr. Tracey Wofford. Photo by Leah Yetter.