Teachers for a New Era seeks recruits from
Cozart will reach out to local school systems to encourage
students to consider teaching careers.
By Anne Bromley
Are teachers prepared to
lead multicultural classrooms? Newly hired assistant professor
Selena Cozart is considering that question as part of her post
with U.Va.’s Teachers for a New Era project. She is researching
the best ways to enhance the teaching profession by recruiting
and retaining more students, especially from under-represented
Teachers for a New Era is a collaborative initiative between the
Curry School and Arts & Sciences to revolutionize teacher
education. Under the auspices of the Carnegie Corporation and
propelled by a $5 million grant, funded by Carnegie and the Ford
and Annenberg foundations as well, the Teachers for a New Era
program aims to strengthen teacher education, to transform the
teaching profession through better preparation and continued guidance,
and to elevate its status in our culture.
Cozart, who specializes in multicultural education, will work
on how to better recruit and retain new teachers from under-represented
groups. Looking at Curry and peer schools, she will study what’s
included and what’s missing from the curriculum that helps
future teachers develop multicultural skills.
The term “under-represented” differs among academic
disciplines and professional areas. Among elementary and secondary
teachers, men are an under-represented group, along with individuals
planning to teach math or science, teachers willing to relocate
to rural areas and people of color going into the teaching profession,
Cozart pointed out.
According to Victor Luftig, director of the overall TNE initiative,
the Carnegie Corporation’s prospectus noted, “There
is an especially pressing need for teacher candidates who represent
minority communities,” a need considered alongside the shortage
of teachers of science, mathematics and special education. Luftig
added: “But TNE also obligates us to make ‘decisions
based on evidence’ in regard to teacher preparation, so
we’ve asked Selena to start by working out a rationale for
determining the nature and extent of these shortages. By what
ratios or expectations do we consider ourselves to have fallen
Traditionally, institutions of higher education and the public
schools leading up to college have co-existed as though there’s
a wall between them. Cozart — who taught in Albemarle County
for six years before joining the TNE project — is charged
with building a bridge between U.Va. and local school divisions
to figure out what ideas might encourage students to pursue teaching.
She also is looking to fortify and expand the bridge that made
possible the University’s five-year program that leads to
bachelor of arts and master’s of teaching degrees. She will
work on strengthening advising and communication between the Curry
School and Arts & Sciences.
Even before students apply for the teacher’s program, Cozart
will evaluate advising to first- and second-year students to see
how often the advisers offer teaching as an option, she said.
To pique interest, this spring she will teach a University Seminar,
“Education in Black and White: Inquiry into Issues in K-12
Education,” to a small class of first-year students.
“Multicultural education needs to be infused throughout
the curriculum,” as well as have a distinct place in teacher
education, said Cozart, a U.Va. alumna whose doctoral degree focused
on the topic. “It’s not easy to do. If it were, it
would have been done already,” she said.
Other new players in the Teachers for a New Era project:
• Patty Crawford is focusing on the development of performance-based
evidence. She will visit classes and work with Curry students
in the field, as well as with graduates and new teachers.
• Scott Imig is director of the TNE Assessment Center. He
will head or assist several projects, along with leading the follow-up
and evaluation of teacher-education graduates.
• Erika Pierce, working half time, is developing a sequence
of courses for B.A. students who decide they want to teach after
it is too late to enter the five-year bachelor’s/master’s