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Austin Peay College of Education Emphasizes Collaboration During Spring Partnership Meeting

The power of partnerships is more than a talking point for Prentice Chandler, Ph.D., dean of the Eriksson College of Education at Austin Peay State University. These partnerships are elevated, celebrated, and taken seriously, and this attitude was fully apparent as the College of Education hosted its semiannual Partnership Advisory Council Meeting on February 15. 
“These two meetings that we have each year are some of the most important work in the college,” Chandler said. “We can do just about anything if we work together.” 

University-district partnerships are essential and have resulted in some of the college’s nationally recognized programs, including the Grow Your Own Teacher Residency. The Partnership Advisory Council is a collaborative effort that brings together Austin Peay faculty and staff with school district leaders and stakeholders from across Tennessee. These meetings allow the college to share updates on its programs and initiatives and gather feedback from partners to help guide improvements.  

Faculty members provided updates on graduate programs and efforts to expand offerings to better address the needs of regional school districts. Associate Dean Lisa Barron, Ed.D., who also serves as director of teacher education and partnerships, overviewed the college’s recent accomplishments and certificate options. She highlighted the growing interest in the Grow Your Own program, which started as a partnership between the College of Education and Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools. 

“We couldn’t be prouder of this program,” Barron said. “There is this sense of pride that it started with us and CMCSS. We are doing it with intentionality. We are doing it with care.” 

Barron also announced that a PreK-3 Early Childhood Education certificate will be available through Austin Peay this summer and encouraged districts to share the information with teachers interested in obtaining an additional endorsement.  

The college presented findings from a SWOT analysis incorporating partner feedback. Partners noted strengths like the fast licensure and seamless admissions process as highlights for working with Austin Peay.  

Barron reviewed Austin Peay’s performance on the new Tennessee Educator Preparation Report Card, with the college overall meeting state expectations. The report card provides data across five domains, highlighting strengths and areas for growth in developing highly effective educators. The report noted Austin Peay’s education graduates exceeded the state average for first-year employment in Tennessee schools and maintained high second- and third-year teaching retention rates. 

The Eriksson College of Education partnered with the University’s Leadership Exchange program to host the partnership meeting. The Leadership Exchange was created this academic year to better connect with community stakeholders and display the varied opportunities and initiatives at Austin Peay. 

As part of this effort, the day incorporated panels of Austin Peay students and faculty who work in schools through university programs. This allowed partners to hear directly from aspiring teachers, speech-language pathologists, and school counselors about their preparation experiences.  

Panelists shared openly with the school districts about what they would like to see from their future employers throughout the recruitment and interview process. 

“I want to make sure I’m a puzzle piece for you, not just a checked box,” said Benjamin Fryer, a health and human performance major studying to become a physical education teacher. “I’m connecting with you, and I’m fully aligned with you.” 

As the room filled with compliments for Fryer and the other student panelists, school districts showed how Austin Peay students continue to be essential puzzle pieces when it comes to regional education.  

If you are a district leader interested in partnering with Austin Peay, contact Barron at barronl@apsu.edu.  

About the Eriksson College of Education 

The Eriksson College of Education prepares dynamic teachers and educational leaders to positively impact communities and schools in the 21st century. The college offers initial and advanced licensure and non-licensure programs. The college’s programs, including the nationally-known Grow Your Own Teacher Residency, are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation (CAEP). To learn more, visit apsu.edu/education. 

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