Wheelock Teacher Support Initiative Wins Grant

February 03, 2014

The Wheelock College Aspire Institute received an $800,000 three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to launch a comprehensive new teacher support initiative to be piloted in Boston. The project, known as 5oaks, aims to increase teacher efficacy and retention through mentoring and training, leadership and advocacy programs, and expanded teacher support networks, with a special focus on new teachers of color.

The retention of new teachers, especially those of color, is a daunting task. The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF) (2011) reports "over a third of the nation's new teachers leave the profession within five years. In urban school districts, one in five new teachers leave the classroom after just one year, and nearly half leave within five years." The NCTAF (2011) "urges the development and adoption of a new approach to teacher deployment that mobilizes learning teams comprised of new teachers, teacher mentors, and teacher retirees..." At the same time, the teaching profession faces a significant teacher-student diversity gap. The Center for American Progress (2011) points out that nationally, "students of color make up more than 40 percent of the public school population, [but] teachers of color, who are not non-Hispanic white, are only 17 percent of the teaching force" (p.1).   

The Wheelock Aspire Institute views the retention, diversity, and skill of new teachers serving in our public school systems as central issues.  As Jacob Murray, Senior Director of Aspire, explained, "Supporting and retaining exceptional, new educators from multiple cultural backgrounds addresses a critical, evidenced-based tenant of education quality: effective teachers are what make effective schools."  With the support of the Kellogg Foundation, the Aspire Institute is poised to collaborate with Boston school leaders to develop and launch the 5oaks initiative to address new teacher challenges.

Specifically, 5oaks will consist of three program components:

  • Mentoring-to address the problem of limited mentoring support for new teachers by mobilizing a growing pool of retired educators to serve as skilled mentors in schools.
  • Teachers of color fellowship-to enhance the professional experience of teachers of color in Boston schools by providing supportive peer cultures and leadership development.  
  • Competency-based professional learning-to provide in-time training to new teachers in content knowledge and instructional skill.

Together, these program components will be designed to increase the number of promising teachers who stay in the profession beyond their first three to five years.   Research points to experienced teachers as essential to student academic success, especially in urban, rural, and low-income schools.   "Education is about experiences," said Dr. Jibril Solomon, Education Program Director at the Aspire Institute, "meaningful experiences that transform the learning and lives of students. The 5oaks project empowers new teachers with vital skills, knowledge, training and support to facilitate the quality of students' positive educational experiences and outcomes."

About  Aspire Institute

The Aspire Institute serves as an innovation lab for Wheelock College. The Aspire mission is to advance knowledge and solutions in response to social and educational challenges. To fulfill this mission, Aspire collaborates with Wheelock faculty, staff, and community partners to envision and develop effective policy and practice in the fields of education, child and human development, and health and wellness. For more information, visit www.wheelock.edu/aspire.  

About W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.

inspire a world of good

200 Riverway, Boston, Massachusetts 02215 | 617-879-2000
© 2014 Wheelock College is a registered trademark.