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Priority on Building Relationships Yields Partnerships That Serve Whole Community

Three new videos are available this week on AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series highlighting clinical preparation and partnerships of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) College of Education. The latest videos focus on building relationships and meeting real needs throughout the community, including the need for a move diverse and culturally competent teaching workforce.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) College of Education has carefully cultivated relationships that generate support not only for its teacher candidates but for the needs of the Clark County School District (CCSD) and the broader surrounding community. The continuously evolving partnerships thrive thanks to a culture of collaboration around solving authentic problems in the community.

Take the on-campus inclusive preschool, for instance. Started decades ago to meet local demand, it continues to grow its network of collaborators on behalf of the enrolled children and their families—while also providing valuable clinical experiences for future teachers.

College of Education Dean Kim Metcalf says the preschool is just one of many partners the college works with to provide “real services” needed in the community as well as real-world experiences for candidates.

Assistant Professor Joseph Morgan says UNLV faculty working in CCSD are attuned to schools’ needs, and if the teacher educators don’t have the capacity to address those needs, they reach out to whatever experts can help do so. This habit results in collaboration across different departments and agencies, building a stronger network of support and engagement beyond the typical school-university partners.

These efforts have contributed to a long-term robust relationship with CCSD. “When Dean Metcalf, to his credit, took the helm as the new dean, his number one goal was relationship building—not just with the Clark County School District; he did it with outside entities,” said Mike Barton, chief academic officer of Clark County School District. “He didn’t just meet with me and the superintendent; he met with associate superintendents, the HR person, the research person in our district, and he developed those relationships quickly and purposefully.”

Another relationship that Dean Metcalf says is critical to develop is with policy makers. He saw a vacuum needing to be filled with accurate information from the education field to inform state legislators, and UNLV doctoral students now work to provide briefing materials and position the university as a key resource for policy makers.

The surrounding community presents a wide spectrum of socioeconomic, linguistic, and racial/ethnic diversity, enabling UNLV to provide candidates opportunities to work with broadly diverse student populations, including students with disabilities. The university is also beginning a collaboration with six high schools in CCSD to strengthen and diversify the teacher pipeline and educate students and parents about what being a teacher entails. Faculty are investigating why more students from diverse backgrounds are not interested in becoming teachers and how to change their minds.

For more information about UNLV’s program, read this introductory article, and view more videos online here.

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Shawn Karim

AACTE, Intern