President's Message

Greetings to AILACTE colleagues:

On behalf of the AILACTE board, thank you to all who attended the annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia, this past February 2020. It was great to connect, interact and engage with all of you whether you attend regularly or are new to AILACTE.

As a nation, we certainly are experiencing one of the most challenging and uncertain times in decades. Virtually all educator preparation programs (EPPs) are responding in unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable ways to how best to prepare our teacher candidates to enter a profession that needs their skills, empathy and compassion more than ever. We will get through this pandemic perhaps viewing our work differently at our institutions and as an association. We still care for those teacher candidates we prepare for diverse classrooms; we still know the work our colleagues do is essential in equipping the next generation of teachers; we still believe that being proactive as we face new challenges is what we are called to do, and finally; all of us who serve in AILACTE institutions still need a professional association to support, advocate for, and advance the work they do.

[Please note: At the end of my message here, I make a brief statement about what the AILACTE board will be discussing and planning next year’s conference (2021) as we respond to the adverse impact on institutional travel budgets as result COVID-19.]

The theme of the 2020 conference was Celebrating 40 years of AILACTE: Continuing to Advance, Adapt and Advocate for Teacher Education in Independent Liberal Arts Institutions. There were five conference strands associated with the theme: (1) Diversity and Inclusion; (2) Social-Emotional Learning and Teacher Self-Care; (3) Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Teacher Candidates; (4) Assessment, Accountability and Accreditation Recruitment; and (5) Innovative Partnerships with P-12 Schools. These five strands were relatively represented across the conference presentations. The strands that drew the most number of presentations as breakout sessions and roundtables were #1: Socio-Emotional Learning and Teacher Self-Care and #3: Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Teacher Candidates. While these two themes drew the most presentations, the remaining three were well represented and rated highly as reported on the conference survey. Our hope is that all the sessions attended provided you with increased knowledge of and appreciation for the meaningful work being carried out by our colleagues. I am unsure if you noticed that toward the end of our conference, attendance at session presentations swelled. That was because many who had registered for AACTE found the titles of your presentations intriguing and wanted to learn of the work you were doing. Several who attended sessions commented to me that, “AILACTE sessions were more interesting than others offered through AACTE.” While we were not trying to compete, we appreciated the professional accolades.

As related to the conference general sessions, conference survey data reported that they were relevant, connected to the conference theme, interesting, informative and feeding. Speaking of feeding, your responses on the conference survey enthusiastically supported the increased food and/or beverages being available at all general sessions. The opportunities taken to network during these sessions were apparent and certainly appreciated by all who attended. We are anticipating the planned social and networking times will continue in the future! The sponsorships provided by NEA, GoReact and CAEP certainly helped with food and beverages costs. On that note, if you or your institution have professional affiliations with educational-focused businesses who are serving you well, please forward contact information to one of the AILACTE board members or me ([email protected]) and we will enthusiastically reach out to them.

One of the highlights of this conference was hearing from the past AILACTE presidents as part of our 40th anniversary celebration. One member commented on the conference survey that, “I felt as a relatively new member to AILACTE that this session was what I needed to understand where we come from and where we are going. I was very pleased the committee decided to host the past presidents panel.” More on the celebration can be found in this View and News publication by Jackie McDowell.

I want to highlight the results of the three awards that were presented at our past conference. The first award has been part of our awards program for several years. That is the Scholar Award that recognizes a faculty member at an AILACTE institution in his or her first five years of appointment as a full-time faculty member to conduct research related to the impact of teacher preparation at AILACTE institutions. This $2,250 award is designed to enhance the professional development of the recipient and can be used for professional travel, support for professional work or other appropriate expenses. This year’s recipient was Dr. Kate Strater from Calvin University. The title of her study is “Goal Attainment and Quality of Life Through Inclusive College for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disability.” We look forward to her disseminating her findings at our upcoming conference in Seattle, Washington, in February 2021.

The second award is the Diversity and Inclusion Change Agent Award. It was awarded for the first time in 2020. The award is presented to a faculty member from an AILACTE institution who has been engaged in significant ways in the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion in the preparation of teacher candidates through teaching, service and/or research.  Recipient(s) of this award will receive a $500 stipend and free registration at the annual upcoming conference. The award is intended to enhance the professional development of the recipient and can be used for professional travel, support for professional work or other appropriate expenses. This year’s recipient was Laura Delgado from Lipscomb University. She is director of the Pionero Scholars Program. This is a grow-your-own scholarship program for area public school graduates from first-generation, low-income and/or underrepresented backgrounds. We look forward to her disseminating the specifies of her work at our upcoming conference in Seattle, Washington, in February 2021.

The third award is the Models of Excellence. This year’s award went to Bridgewater College and was presented to Dr. Jennie Carr. The title of the project is A Virtual Math Mentorship (M&M) Partnership. It was designed to support upper elementary high need students at an elementary school while simultaneously providing hands-on experience in relationships, teaching, and learning for the teacher candidates at Bridgewater College. This innovative technology rich partnership supports the academic, social, and emotional needs of the mentees and supports the professional goals of the teacher candidate mentors through virtual meetings, digital pen pal journals, and face-to-face meetings. This is a model project that could be duplicated by other AILACTE institutions.

Yet another highlight of the conference the board was delighted to invite was Jackie Rodriquez from AACTE to report on “Opportunities to Collaborate with, Engage and Promote AILACTE Institutions” with the Holmes Scholar Awards program (https://aacte.org/programs-and-services/holmes-program/). In the past, the perception was this was reserved only for R1 institutions preparing diverse doctoral candidates for careers at the university level. This is not the case as AILACTE has been invited to engage in and reap some of the professional benefits and services offered by being affiliated with this excellent awards program. More to come on this growing professional relationship in the upcoming fall publication of Views and News.

One more general session highlight I wanted to briefly mention is the panel presentation by the Networked Improvement Community (NIC) (https://aacte.org/programs-and-services/nic/). Several representatives from institutions that are participating in this work presented on the opportunities and challenges of recruiting and retaining diverse teacher candidates. If you want to read about “Exploring New Pathways to Recruit and Retain” Black and Hispanic/Latino educators, the report can be found here: https://secure.aacte.org/apps/rl/res_get.php?fid=4482&ref=rl. Here is what one of our AILACTE members commented about the presentation, “Very good points were made regarding the difficulty of recruitment and retention, and larger underlying problems in the college environment that work against efforts to recruit people of color.”

A couple of final words about responding to COVID-19 related planning and conference and Call for Proposals.

COVID-19: The board will be meeting virtually toward the end of May to discuss a hybrid virtual/face-to-face conference in Seattle for 2021. While the conference formatting will most likely be very similar to what occurred in 2020, the delivery will account for both virtual and face-to-face options. It is our goal that participants will be able to attend and present using either one of the options. The cost savings will be substantial for your institutions and we believe a quality professional experience for those who plan to attend is feasible. We will provide more updates on AILACTE’s website as soon as details become available. We will also send out emails to institutional representatives.

Call for Proposals: Toward the beginning of the upcoming fall term, you will be receiving a call for proposals based on the conference theme and session strands. Until then, the board encourages you to reach out to us via the AILACTE website (www.AILACTE.org) about relevant topics of interest, resources we may want to explore or expertise you may have.

In closing, please remember AILACTE is your national professional educator preparation association. Deans and directors, engagement in AILACTE is an excellent way to network with and learn from each other. It is also a credible opportunity for your junior faculty to make professional presentations, publish in the AILACTE Journal, apply for scholar awards, be involved as reviewers of presentation proposal or even be an AILACTE state representative.