USJ Celebrates Partnership to Educate the Next Generation of Teachers with East Hartford Public Schools

On December 17, 2021, the Connecticut State Department of Education, East Hartford Public Schools, and University of Saint Joseph gathered to celebrate their collective efforts to recruit and train the next generation of educators in the state under the Educators Rising and NextGen programs. These efforts assisted Connecticut in exceeding the State Board of Education’s five-year goal for increasing diversity in the educator workforce and are a part of the CSDE’s multi-pronged approach to building an educator workforce that reflects the racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of its students.

From left to right: Attendees included a number of people with USJ connections – Charlene Russell-Tucker ’85, CT Dept. of Education Commissioner; Lisa Lamenzo ’03, Division Director, Turnaround Office; Erin Benham ’80, Vice Chair, State Board of Education; Sharon Bremner ’78, Ed. D., Director of Pupil Personnel Services at East Hartford Public Schools; Dianna Wentzell, Ed.D. Director of Clinical Education and Associate Professor at USJ; and USJ President Rhona C. Free

In addition to diversifying Connecticut’s educator workforce, these initiatives are also aimed at addressing staffing shortages. NextGen, for example, brings highly motivated college students seeking Education degrees into classrooms to gain experience; this provides districts with immediate access to new talent, eases pressures on current teachers, and addresses staffing shortages. This year, NextGen and the Connecticut State Department of Education have placed 76 aspiring educators in Connecticut classrooms within eight districts.

“The State Department of Education values partners like the University of Saint Joseph and East Hartford Public Schools,” said Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker. “Working together to deploy initiatives like NextGen and EdRising, we can inspire future educators and close the existing gap between educators and students of color so the workforce better reflects the diversity of our students and communities.”

“Innovative partnerships have been key to the University of Saint Joseph’s approach to helping meet workforce needs in the state, and this collaboration with East Hartford Public Schools is just one way to address the critical need for highly-trained teachers from diverse backgrounds,” said University of Saint Joseph President Rhona C. Free, Ph.D. “The Connecticut State Department of Education, East Hartford Public Schools, and USJ faculty have been creative and flexible in their commitment to providing excellent teacher preparation, and I’m very grateful to everyone involved, especially Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker, for making this possible.”

“At East Hartford Public Schools, we are delighted and deeply grateful to be building a long-range partnership with the University of Saint Joseph. This partnership will allow us to achieve our mutual goal of growing a talented workforce that represents the student population in East Hartford, while giving our teachers the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and lead the next generation of educators,” said Superintendent of East Hartford Public Schools Nathan Quesnel.

USJ and EHPS are both partners in the Governor’s NextGen Educators Program which allows undergraduate students enrolled in an Educator Preparation Program to work in schools and count this toward their clinical practice hours requirement. Because USJ and Mayberry School are in full partnership, USJ students will work in Mayberry classrooms for three semesters before they are ready to student-teach.

Learn more about USJ’s Education Programs.