ULM pilot program develops high school students into educators
A University of Louisiana Monroe professor won the Educators Rising Champion Award at the organization’s conference on June 26 in Washington, D.C. Dr. Amy Weems is an assistant professor of education and launched the Louisiana Educators Rising pilot program three years ago at Neville, Oak Grove and Wossman high schools.
The goal of Educators Rising is to encourage students to choose education as a career path by offering college credit opportunities, mentor relationships with college professors and leadership development sessions.
“Helping to repair our teaching workforce pipeline is one of the most challenging yet inspiring experiences of my entire career,” Weems said. “I have been collaborating with stakeholders across Louisiana and the US to advocate for sustainable workforce solutions for almost four years, and we still have many more years of work ahead.”
Weems developed a pilot program called the Pre-Educator Pathway for the Louisiana Department of Education. ULM was the first institution of higher education in the state to offer the program to high school students to give them an early start toward teacher certification upon graduation.
“Grow-your-own programs capitalize on participants having personal knowledge of communities and schools in which they serve. This is particularly important for promoting culturally responsive educational opportunities and for teacher retention,” Weems said.
Regions Bank saw the need for ULM to train more teachers and awarded a $100,000 grant to support scholarships for deserving education students who completed the Pre-Educator Pathway in high school. Incoming ULM secondary education freshman Jamecia Washington is the first student to receive a $6,000 scholarship from the fund. Washington joined Educators Rising during her 10th grade year at Wossman High School at the height of the pandemic. She attended every meeting virtually and found guidance from Weems.
“Dr. Weems was my mentor throughout the Educators Rising program. She had a huge impact on my education by giving me opportunities to learn more about children’s education. She showed me how teaching can be a wonderful job in the future,” Washington said. “I love helping others learn.”
Weems’ pilot program was so successful that she expanded the participating high schools to five districts: Caldwell, Franklin, Livingston, Richland, Monroe City and Ouachita. Now, other universities have followed the ULM School of Education’s lead to inspire teenagers to become teachers. McNeese State University, University of Louisiana Lafayette and LSU Shreveport are now also using Weems’ Pre-Educator Pathway to increase the number of educators in the state.
“The award recognizes our Educators Rising champions who have consistently promoted Educators Rising in their area and are continuing to support the teaching profession through the Grow Your Own programs. We are happy to present this award to Amy for her commitment to inspiring, developing and supporting the next generation of educators,” said Robyn Mintier, director of membership for Educators Rising.