Volume 1, No. 3 | May 4, 2021
Message from EPP Associate Dean Gina Anderson
Dear Educator Preparation Colleagues,

I hope each of you is enjoying the start to this spring season. It marks an occasion for renewal and growth, and it is a time to consider new ways to improve our health, happiness and our work. Given the endless possibilities, it is important to be strategic about our goals and the changes we wish to make. I have always appreciated the saying “work smarter, not harder” when considering how we can be more effective in preparing teachers and professional educators at TWU. 

I am privileged to work with such dedicated administrators, faculty and staff who truly care about the quality of educator preparation for our candidates. Every day they enact the mission of our Educator Preparation Program (EPP), which is to develop teachers and professional educators who are engaged, prepared and professional when they enter the classroom or specialized educational setting. There are many examples of high-quality educator preparation at TWU. While I am proud of this work, I know there is always room to improve and grow. When continuous improvement processes become part of our routines, the investment of time and preparation pays off in stronger student and program performance. 

We have recently renewed our focus on high-quality educator preparation and candidate success. With this re-established focus, we have begun the early stages of seeking national accreditation through the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP). We believe national accreditation with profession-wide standards of excellence serves a critical function in assuring high-quality educator preparation and value to the communities we serve. Much of what we do already aligns with these expectations; therefore, this is an opportunity for us to be more efficient, intentional and strategic in sharing our story and providing evidence of our success.

As the saying goes, “to everything there is a season,” and this is the TWU EPP’s time to embrace an opportunity to work smarter in our improvement efforts for high-quality educator preparation. Read on to learn more about the impressive ways our faculty, staff and administrators focus on these efforts.

As always, thank you for your support of our candidates and EPP! We welcome your reflections and ideas. Please continue to stay in touch with us via our newsletters, and do not forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


Sincerely,
Dean Lisa Huffman
Manifesting Value through Continuous Improvement
The College of Professional Education values demonstrating that our academic programs provide education that exceeds nationally-recognized levels of quality. National accreditation demonstrates to the public at large, to other institutions and to potential employers that students graduating from COPE’s programs are both well-prepared and well-educated. Consisting of careful self-evaluation and rigorous independent peer appraisal of program quality, national accreditation emphasizes not only quality assurance, but also a commitment to continuous improvement and program enhancement. 

In COPE, the following programs have achieved accreditation:


COPE’s Educator Preparation Program (EPP) will hone in on its own accreditation process in the coming months, as program leadership prepares to take next steps with the Association for Advancing Quality Educator Preparation (AAQEP). Already an affiliate member of AAQEP, the EPP’s initial work is well underway. 

Consistently approved and recognized by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), TWU’s EPP enjoyed national accreditation in years past. Now in a period of rapid growth, the EPP offers certification in elementary and middle grades, high school and in other education professions (e.g., school counseling, library management, school leadership), overall certifying in more than 30 areas. Given the program’s expanding impact, the timing is ripe to revisit the opportunities offered by national accreditation. 

Of two national agencies approved to provide accreditation to EPPs, TWU has decided to pursue AAQEP’s. The AAQEP mission is in line with COPE’s focus on quality and equity, a focus that ensures its graduates who become school personnel are well-prepared to meet the needs of diverse PK-12 learners across Texas. AAQEP promotes and recognizes quality educator preparation that strengthens the education profession's ability to serve all students, schools and communities, and to do so equitably. It is through this shared work, where all members of the EPP and our stakeholders come together, that we ensure program graduates are engaged, prepared and professional educators. 
Innovations in Teacher Education
Serving Teacher Candidates & Texas Schools
Now in its second year, Project HELP (Hispanic Educators Leading the Profession), is designed to assist in the recruitment, training and retention of Hispanic teachers from across the state. According to the Texas Education Agency, in 2019, 52.8% of Texas K-12 students identified as Hispanic. Funded through a grant from the Department of Education, Project HELP assists in building an exemplary teaching force in response to the changing demographics in Texas and a growing body of research that links improvements in learning outcomes and social-emotional development for students of color who are taught by teachers of color. 

TWU’s Department of Education faculty have mounted multiple efforts to reinforce Project HELP. These include:

  • Targeted recruitment from community colleges
  • Smaller, cohorted classes of students participating in Project HELP
  • Financial assistance through scholarships
  • Enhanced preparation measures for TExES certification exams.

Teacher candidates participating in Project HELP will also receive continued support after graduation through initiatives such as TWU's New Teacher Academy

Spring 2021 saw TWU welcome its first cohort of Project HELP students. The participants have received financial support in the form of scholarships, as well as the communal support offered through a cohort model. Students meet regularly with Project HELP faculty, and have already participated in their first certification exam preparation workshop.

Dr. Edward Steffek summed up his work with this cohort, saying, “Project HELP has built a community within a class. Students are comfortable reaching out to their fellow classmates for support and guidance. The students enjoy learning together and building cohesive friendships as they progress in their goals to be classroom teachers.”
We See You Rock! #PioneersTeach
Let Us Appreciate You with TWU Swag
Let us hear from YOU — so we can recognize you as a friend and colleague of TWU! Send us your pics* posing with TWU swag in your classroom or wherever your #TeachingAdventures find you.

And if you’re fresh out of TWU swag, just email us for a supply!

Send your pics and swag requests to eppinfo@twu.edu.  

*Please note that by sending your photo, you agree to allow TWU and its affiliates to use it for official marketing purposes. You are also confirming it is not protected by copyright or other restrictions.
Professional Certifications
ELDR Program Prepares Evolving School Leaders
The evolving role of campus principal as a strong instructional leader aligned with the needs of Texas schools and communities make up the core of state principal standards, as evidenced by the latest certification exam, Principal As Instructional Leader (PAIL). To prepare TWU graduates in this area, the Educational Leadership Program (ELDR) offers coursework with these new standards in its DNA.

Designed by Teacher Education faculty members Laura Trujillo-Jenks, Ph.D. and Peggy Malone, Ph.D., ELDR’s requirements stem from statewide district needs identified by recent data. A collegial commitment to learning and authentic course assignments has driven ELDR’s 100% certification pass rate since its first cohort graduated in 2019.

Working with education agencies, the program created an approach to developing strong campus leaders centered on cultural responsiveness, equitable decision-making and the use of best practices in leading campus teams. This standards-based program includes an individualized research foundation which drives all coursework. Through this meaningful approach, student-driven learning is created in areas important to daily campus work while also inspiring new learning. Graduates of TWU’s Educational Leadership Program lead campuses throughout Texas, with a strong presence in DFW Metroplex area schools.

In August 2020, TWU’s MEd Educational Leadership Program was named a recipient of a TEA 2020-21 principal residency grant. Recipients comprise a vetted list of Texas principal EPPs that ensure their candidates are eligible to partner with identified school districts. Like other TEA-selected programs, TWU’s MEd in Educational Leadership and its Principal as Instructional Leader Certification provide support for aspiring leaders while they pursue their credentials. The TEA designation illustrates confidence in the quality of instruction and training delivered by leadership learning programs at TWU.

The TWU Educational Leadership Program and Principal Residency Program contact is Peggy Malone, Ed.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education, College of Professional Education.
Student Learning Spotlight
Innovation in Immersive Classrooms with MUVEs
Over the years, teaching and learning processes have benefited greatly from information and communication technologies. Most importantly, when these emerging technologies are applied correctly, they become a powerful scaffold that positively assists teachers, students and parents. That is why educator preparation programs continue to stay current with ways to integrate emerging technologies in the classroom. This focus has led TWU’s EPP to adopt immersive technologies and explore their many classroom applications. 

Jorge F. Figueroa, Ph.D. leads education students in the exploration of immersive and virtual technologies, which offer new opportunities to provide learning experiences in simulated spaces. Those spaces involve sounds and images that allow the real world to be immersed into the virtual world. These technologies align with the preferences and aptitudes of students from Generations Z and Alpha, whom educators increasingly meet in their classrooms, whether at the K-12 or college level.

Three of the most-used immersive technologies in education are augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR). As part of TWU’s Educator Preparation Program, pre-service teachers are trained in the use of these cutting-edge technologies, with the goal of later incorporating them in teaching their own future students. Recent lessons have involved the creation of virtual classrooms, called multi-user virtual environments, or MUVEs. MUVEs are dynamic portals characterized by their high resolution graphics, quality sound and movement capture, and, above all, capacity for interaction.

MUVEs became popular with the SecondLife online project in the early 2000s. As they’ve become more immersive and accessible over the years, their potential for education has become increasingly evident. Today’s students can access MUVEs from their mobile devices, smartphones or via VR standalone headsets.

Recent experience adopting MUVEs for educator preparation courses, included students practicing with Frame VR as they erected virtual classrooms, uploading various multimodal materials and engaging with peers. These classrooms — which are essentially portals — allow users to conduct live video streaming, upload videos and files and interact in real time with up to 20 people. MUVEs offer such a wide range of applicability for engaging students, it is not difficult to imagine their expanding presence in classrooms of all kinds. Among today’s Zoom-weary educators and students, the dynamic versatility of MUVEs promises a welcome alternative to more static platforms.

Teachers, Principals & Other Professionals
Open Up This Summer to Continuing Education
We have passed the one-year mark since COVID-19 constrained many aspects of our lives. The pandemic added too many losses to mounting uncertainties, and demanded that educators pivot teaching, flip classrooms, offer flipped learning and redesign curriculum —often on the fly.

This summer, COPE and the EPP offer affordable CPE sessions that glean effective practices and perspective from last year’s lessons.

While we join our colleagues in looking forward to a return to typical schooling, this summer's sessions will continue to be offered in an online format for convenience and out of an abundance of caution.

Join expert faculty to learn how to improve teaching and school culture with tools honed in difficult times. All sessions are approved by the Texas Education Agency for CPE credit hours
Librarians Lead the Way
Connecting Communities to Essential Resources
How many times do we hear leaders talking about their success stories, and they name teachers from childhood as the people who changed their lives? To many, the most important person in a child’s life outside of their family is their teacher. 

Teachers play an important role in children’s learning in the classroom. Outside the classroom, the person with the most potential to positively influence a child’s future is the school librarian. This is especially true in Texas, where school librarians must be experienced classroom teachers in addition to being certified according to state standards.

The American Rescue Plan of 2021 includes 200 million dollars for federal library programs and grants through the Institute of Museum and Library Services and 7 billion dollars for libraries and schools for technology to support distance learning and work-from-home for families who could not afford it otherwise, as well as telemedicine in rural areas where people do not have easy access to doctors and other healthcare providers. School librarians — including many TWU students — are essential members on this major response and recovery team nationwide.

From individuals to communities, librarians find ways to serve. Many already among the ranks of these dedicated educators chose TWU and the School Librarian Certification Program to meet their goals. This program meets all state certification requirements, is affordable and offered 100% online. Students can choose to pursue either the Master of Library Science degree with School Librarian Certification, or, if they already have been awarded a master’s degree in another discipline, they may elect to pursue the certification-only option.

Please visit our website for more information about admission applications, and contact us at SLIS@twu.edu or 940-898-2602 with any questions.
Join TWU's Educator Preparation Program
Supporting Future Teachers of Texas
Like all departments in the College of Professional Education, the Educator Preparation Program serves communities. These communities include first generation college students, communities of scholar-practitioners researching more effective ways to teach English language learners, communities of associate degree holders seeking to complete teaching certification, or communities of school and district leaders working to keep quality teachers in their communities classrooms. Their efforts change children’s lives.

Please consider becoming a partner and supporting our work through a designated gift to the College of Professional Education and its support of the Educator Preparation Program.
Stoddard Hall 211
P.O. Box 425769
Denton, TX 76204-5769
phone 940.898.2735 | fax 940.898.2830
Sharon G. Bailey, MA, Editor