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Jerrica Thurman

Director of Marketing & Communications, AACTE

AACTE Awards Program Recognizes Excellence in Doctoral Dissertation Research

 2018 AACTE Outstanding Dissertation Award recipient, Molly Baustien Siuty
The AACTE Awards Program recognizes excellence in educator preparation in nine categories. One category is the Outstanding Dissertation Award, which honors doctoral research that contributes to the knowledge base of educator preparation or of teaching and learning with implications for educator preparation. Overseen by AACTE’s Committee on Research and Dissemination, the award includes a $1,000 cash prize as well as special recognition at AACTE’s 72nd Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA, February 28 – March 1, 2020.

The video above features the 2018 AACTE Outstanding Dissertation Award recipient, Molly Baustien Siuty, assistant professor of inclusive teacher education at AACTE member institution

AACTE Awards Program Recognizes Innovative Use of Technology in Educator Preparation

Northeastern State University’s (NSU) College of Education, the 2018 recipient of the Best Practice Award for the Innovative Use of Technology

AACTE is committed to recognizing excellence in educator preparation through its prestigious annual Awards Program. Among the nine categories of awards, the Best Practice Award for the Innovative Use of Technology honors AACTE members that infuse technology throughout their curriculum in an innovative way. AACTE’s Committee on Innovation and Technology sponsors this award and selects a school, college, or department of education that uses technologies to stretch beyond standard practices in teacher education.

The video above features AACTE member institution Northeastern State University’s (NSU) College of Education, the 2018 recipient of the Best Practice Award for the Innovative Use of Technology. Dean Vanessa Anton explains how NSU’s Robotics Academy of Critical Engagement (RACE) program works and why it received the award.

BGSU Inclusive Early Childhood Program Builds Strong Partnerships with Local Schools

Teacher working with two young girls in classroom. Developing and sustaining partnerships with local school districts are critical to the success of the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Inclusive Early Childhood (IEC) program. Superintendents who work with BGSU assert that all parties need to understand the challenges each school district and university face and must be willing to bridge the gap between research and clinical practice together. BGSU’s teacher candidates are deployed for clinical practice in special education at local schools including in rural areas.

“One of the pieces that works really well for us is that all of the people working in the education department at the university are parents themselves of students in our district so there’s a vested interest,” said Francis Scruci, superintendent of Bowling Green City Schools. “I think there’s a mutual respect. We certainly respect what the university does and I think they respect what we’re trying to do at the K-12 level and we understand the challenges that both of us face. We are willing to bridge that gap and try to help each other become successful.”

BGSU’s overall objective is to prepare graduates of the IEC program to teach young children with and without disabilities in inclusive settings. The IEC program blends the best practices from early childhood education with early childhood special education. It addresses the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to meet the needs of each child. Graduates of the program are prepared to provide differentiated, evidence-based instruction to young children from birth through grade 3. 

To learn more, watch the Developing and Sustaining Partnerships video highlighting BGSU’s Models of Inclusive Clinical Teacher Preparation, part of AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series.

From Education Intern to Avid Holmes Program Advocate

Donna Saco and two Holmes doctoral studentsAACTE’s Jerrica Thurman first met Donna Sacco in 2015. Sacco was one of three doctoral students from George Mason University (GMU) who worked as an AACTE education intern, assisting in advocating for high-quality preparation programs and with its marketing communications. Thurman was pleasantly surprised when she saw Sacco at AACTE’s 2019 Washington Week with her two Holmes doctoral students from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). It was during her AACTE internship that Sacco learned about the Holmes Program and determined to make a personal contribution to help diversify the teacher workforce by becoming a Holmes advocate. The following summary highlights an interview Thurman had with Sacco about her journey from an intern to a change agent in education. 

What piqued your interest in the issues of teacher diversity as a doctoral student at George Mason University and student intern at AACTE?

Before my doctoral program, I was a special educator with a master’s degree in bilingual special education. For my entire career, my focus has been on culturally and linguistically responsive instructional practices. Part of my drive came from the stories my father told me about the obstacles he experienced in his childhood as the son of Italian immigrants. He was a brilliant man but never went to college. He had one advocate who helped mentor him in appreciating the arts but had no teachers who were advocates, role models, or who understood his background. Once I began researching teacher education, I was surprised to learn that the teaching force is composed of roughly 80% white female teachers. How had I missed that obvious point? I am a white female who was teaching mostly boys of

CCSSO’s Latest Report Offers Key Recommendations for Ensuring Equity for Students with Disabilities

Ensuring an Equitable Opportunity

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) recently released Ensuring an Equitable Opportunity: Providing a High-Quality Education for Students with Disabilities, a report that details policy and practice considerations around individualized education plans chiefs and state education leaders can reflect upon and implement in ensuring all students, especially students with disabilities, have access to a high-quality education. Students with disabilities are provided with an individualized education program (IEP) to ensure they receive specially-designed instruction and related services. The IEP is the primary mechanism for ensuring students with disabilities receive the right educational content and rigor at the right moment in their education. 

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 marked an historic win for civil rights when the doors to public education were opened for all students. For the first time, children with disabilities had access to a public education and the hope of a productive and fulfilling future. Today, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA), the most recent iteration of that law, aims to deliver on that promise; namely, that all students with disabilities have equitable access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment.

A Look at UNCC’s Black Male Teacher Initiative, “What’s Your Impact?”

Group of UNCC Black Teacher Initiative Participants
AACTE member institution Cato College of Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) works to create effective solutions to the shortage of Black male teachers. Thomas Fisher, supervisor of student teaching in the Office of School and Community Partnerships, recruited four of his former students to help implement a program to engage and recruit Black male students into the teaching profession. The team visits schools and shares their story to inspire a new generation of educators in the most underrepresented demographic in teaching. 

“There’s only 2% Black male teachers in the United States,” says Timothy Wells, social studies teacher at Ridge Road Middle School, who is featured in the “What’s Your Impact?” video. “Studies show that your success increases if you have a Black male teacher or a male teacher in general from an early age.” The video spotlights Black male graduates of UNC’s Cato College of Education as they share why they pursued a teaching career. It also includes Edwin Campbell, American history teacher at Vance High School; Devin Murphy, math teacher at Myers Park High School; and Dwayne Simmons, English teacher and dean of students at Quail Hollow Middle School. Please take a few minutes to watch the video above to hear the dynamic stories of these educators.

AACTE 2019 Washington Week Video Highlights

Your Voice Matters - Video Thumnail
There was so much buzz in Washington, DC during AACTE’s 2019 Washington Week this month that we had to capture it all in a video! Check out the recap video above to view AACTE members at work for teacher education during our annual advocacy event. Then, be sure to access the variety of online resources that will help let your local elected officials know that “Your Voice Matters.”

  • Ed Prep Matters continues to bring you reports from the event. Read what presenters, participants, and staff learned and what related opportunities are available.
  • For photos from the event, visit our Facebook album. Feel free to tag yourself and share photos on your own page and check out the Facebook Live videos!
  • Look up the hashtag #AACTEWW19 on Twitter and read through several tweets about the event.
  • Visit AACTE’s Advocacy Center for the latest resources on federal and state policy issues about teacher preparation.

Plan now to join AACTE next year for the 2020 Washington Week, May 31 – June 3 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, VA and on Capitol Hill.

#AACTEWW19 Goes Viral


AACTE’s 2019 Washington Week attendees made known their presence in the nation’s capital on Twitter using #AACTEWW19. Photos and tweets of the event’s activities were shared on social media throughout the four-day conference last week, and on June 5 the attendees took over Twitter during their advocacy visits to congressional offices.

Analytic reports reveal #AACTEWW19 received more than 650 original posts, retweets and replies, which yielded over 1 million impressions! In fact, #AACTEWW19 was recognized as trending in Washington, DC by social media monitoring services.

AACTE’s Day on the Hill Facebook Live Videos Feature Members in Nation’s Capital

During AACTE’s 2019 Day on the Hill, the educator preparation community united on Capitol Hill to make their voices heard about challenging issues affecting education. AACTE members, colleagues, and students employed their advocacy skills to elevate the profession in meetings with Members of Congress and their staff. AACTE is excited to have captured attendees in real-time Facebook Live Shows and to highlight their significant work in Washington, DC.

In the video interviews, participants discuss the importance of teacher educators and students from across the nation converging on Capitol Hill to advocate for educator preparation as well as ways to impact education policy in their local areas. They also share how the advocacy training from AACTE’s Day on the Hill sessions prepared them for congressional meetings and key takeaways on best strategies to promote talking points with policymakers. All of the video participants emphasize the important message in the AACTE Washington Week event theme: “Your Voice Matters!”

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