Relay Receives $2.4 Million Grant to Support New Teachers in Colorado
DENVER, COLORADO - Relay Graduate School of Education has been awarded a $2.4 million Opportunity Now grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), a Governor’s Office agency, to support their work building out the teacher pipeline in the Centennial State. It is the second highest grant amount out of 46 recipient organizations, and will provide funding for over 150 new teachers to receive the support they need to be successful in the classroom.
“Relay exists to build a more just world where every student has access to outstanding educators. The Opportunity Now Grant will enable us to train even more aspiring educators to provide a rigorous, culturally responsive education to Colorado’s students,” says Dr. Mayme Hostetter, President of Relay GSE. “As we continue to work toward eliminating learning loss, particularly for marginalized communities, it is more important than ever to recruit and retain a robust pipeline of dedicated educators.”
Opportunity Now is a workforce and talent development grant program, awarded to organizations that “connect more Coloradans with in-demand, high-skill, high-wage occupations.” Emphasis is placed on organizations that create partnerships between educational institutions and employers, creating an “intentional pathway” from education to career. This comes amid a growing interest by states and the federal government in registered apprenticeship programs, especially as they apply to teacher residencies.
Relay GSE offers several pathways to becoming a full time teacher, including an alternative teacher licensing program and a teacher residency. In the residency model, new teachers serve as residents in the classroom of a mentor teacher for one year, learning through hands-on experience during the day and through master’s level, virtual coursework at night. They might support small groups of students, grade assignments, help plan lessons, and eventually, deliver lessons on their own. In their second year, they are full time teachers of record, and eligible to earn their Master of Arts in Teaching. In all pathways, aspiring educators “earn while they learn.”
“Research on teacher residencies shows that teachers tend to stay in the classroom longer,” says Arik Shur, managing director of partnerships of Relay GSE in Colorado. “We have found them to be an excellent talent development tool because teachers gain real-world experience, mentoring, and a feel for their school community.”
The majority of Relay’s Opportunity Now grant is student-directed, meaning that it will offset tuition costs for students. Relay GSE plans to use it to support over 150 new teachers in 3 years. The organization has already trained nearly 500 educators in Colorado and currently partners with nearly a dozen school systems throughout the state, including Denver Public Schools, DSST Public Schools, and Rocky Mountain Prep. Relay’s grant is considered a “scale” grant, awarded to organizations that use evidence-based practices and can demonstrate a track record of impact. Relay is looking for more partners who are interested in this work.
“My dream was to be a classroom teacher, and Relay made it possible." - Madhura Jagadish, Relay student and current Colorado teacher
Relay is also committed to developing educators of color. More than one third of Relay’s Colorado cohort identifies as a person of color, which is about three times the percentage of all teachers in Colorado. They also place a great emphasis on culturally responsive and inclusive teaching methods - in fact, all aspiring educators at Relay in Colorado earn a Culturally & Linguistically Diverse (CLD) endorsement on their license.
This past year, Madhura Jagadish served as a Denver Math Fellow and Relay resident teacher in Denver Public Schools. She taught small groups of students who needed math support, and she trained in a mentor teacher’s classroom. She says,
“My dream was to be a classroom teacher, and Relay made it possible. I highly recommend the program for career changers as well as those right out of college. They model this process: learn a skill, practice it, and get immediate feedback. You aren’t just learning something on paper - you’re living it in the classroom.” Next year, she will be a full time teacher in Aurora Public Schools and will finish her Master of Arts in Teaching degree. Read more about Madhura here.
Relay also has a long history of supporting school and school system leaders in Colorado. They have partnered closely with schools in Pueblo School District 60, Greeley-Evans School District 6, and Denver Public Schools, where more than 250 leaders from more than 70 of DPS’ 200 schools have received Relay training. Schools in both Pueblo and Greeley have recently been cited for their turnaround success.
Leticia Levi is a Pathways and Operations Manager on the Talent Acquisition Team at Denver Public Schools, and has been working with Relay for several years. She says the district has a commitment to creating a positive adult experience, including recruiting and retaining a high-quality, diverse workforce with meaningful opportunities to grow professionally. She says:
"We appreciate the passion Relay brings to this work - they know our schools and communities, and they know what we're trying to do to close achievement and opportunity gaps. The integrity of the program, and the way it's built - it works for working adults. We're all ultimately focused on the students."
"We appreciate the passion Relay brings to this work - they know our schools and communities....We're all focused on the students." - Leticia Levi, Talent Acquisition Team, Denver Public Schools
Opportunity Now was funded by recent state-level legislation that recognized the need for talent and workforce development, particularly in the areas of education, health care, and infrastructure. Relay is gratified that Colorado recognizes teaching as a crucial career path for their citizens and a vital profession for improving the life outcomes of all the state’s children.
Relay Graduate School of Education is an accredited not-for-profit institution of higher education serving thousands of educators from across the country, from pre-service teachers to system-level leaders. Our mission is to ensure that all students are taught by excellent educators, in order to build a more just world where every student has a clear path to a fulfilling life. Our graduate and certification programs, teacher residencies, and professional education offerings are equity-centered and practice-based, led by experienced practitioners and designed to build community among a diverse set of peers. Through in-person and online programming, we can offer students flexibility and the opportunity to learn with a wide network of faculty and experienced, supportive advisors.
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