SAU College of Education and Human Performance receives grant from Forward Arkansas

The College of Education and Human Performance at Southern Arkansas University has been selected as one of two phase II recipients of a grant from Forward Arkansas. SAU is being awarded $798,830 as part of the implementation of phase II. This grant is a part of the Educator Preparation Program (EPP) Design Collaborative to aid in comprehensive ongoing technical assistance from expert partners and to increase the quantity, quality, and diversity of Arkansas’s teacher workforce. SAU will be receiving direct funding and comprehensive ongoing technical assurance that totals more than 1.9 million dollars.

The EPP Design Collaborative, a competitive grant initiative to find institutions committed to alleviating Arkansas’s teacher shortage, was introduced by Forward in 2021. Ever since, Forward has helped partner colleges create phase II plans for transformation using tools and advice from U.S. Prep and 2Revolutions, two leading national experts. Sixteen of Arkansas’s 19 universities EPP’s applied for the Design Collaborative, and eight were chosen during phase I. The recipients of the phase II grants are SAU and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA-Little Rock).

“Our department truly believes that every candidate ‘comes with a purpose and leaves with a promise,’” remarks Dr. Neelie Dobbins, chair of the department of teacher education. “Our promise is to prepare every candidate to be day one ready teachers to help all learners be successful. We are excited for the support from Forward Arkansas as we transform education in south Arkansas.”

The goals for SAU emphasize expanding the quantity and variety of candidates applying to and completing the program and changing the overall teacher-candidate experience to be more practice-based so that teachers are prepared for their classrooms on day one. The plans include several innovations:

  • Year-long paid residency programs where candidates spend the year working in a partner school as a resident teacher, all while still in training and with the assistance of devoted mentor teachers.
  • Cooperative partnerships with regional school districts.
  • The collection of comprehensive data on teacher candidates and graduates in their first five years in the field.

“SAU put forward a transformative vision and plan for their educator preparation program that has the potential to be a model for the state,” remarks Executive Director of Forward Arkansas Ben Kutylo. “Our hope is that this grant and the implementation support they receive from our partners will help SAU make their vision a reality over the next three years.”

With funding from the Walton Family Foundation and Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Forward Arkansas was founded in 2014 with the goal of enhancing student results overall. Forward Arkansas collaborates with districts, schools, educational partners, and state leaders to reform education, strengthen educator capacity, and provide equitable resources so that every student has access to and is equipped for opportunities in life and the workplace. Visit to learn more.

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