Mantella, Truss meet virtually with Secretary of Education on teacher workforce
President Philomena V. Mantella and Vice President for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach B. Donta Truss joined U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona for a virtual roundtable on May 10, discussing the university’s plans on developing and diversifying the next generation of teachers.
Kentwood Public Schools administrators and educators also joined the roundtable, addressing some of the collaborations between the school district and Grand Valley to diversify the talent pool.
“You are an example of what innovation and partnerships need to look like across the country,” said Cardona. “We definitely need to support teacher pipeline programs that bring diverse people to the workforce.”
Mantella pointed out several programs the university has implemented to introduce students to the possibilities of a career in education. Mantella said the NextEd Co-Lab “is a place for innovation as a space to work with our teachers directly, not independently tutor, but support the teaching workforce.”
Through K-12 Connect, 700 undergraduate students across a variety of majors completed 35,000 tutoring sessions and were introduced to a career in education, said Mantella.
Mantella also shared with Cardona the development of GVSU’s alliance with Historically Black Colleges/Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions to enrich and diversify the community, while the REP4 initiative is building a coalition of higher education institutions committed to equity in education.
“Sometimes higher education will compete, at the peril of the public because we know it’s a demographic that’s shifting, rather than sharing so we can accelerate change,” said Mantella.
Truss spoke with Cardona about the university’s efforts to ease the pathway for students pursuing higher education, in particular the Grand Valley Pledge, which provides free tuition for qualified students who have a family income less than $50,000.
“When we implemented that program, we quickly saw that our yield rate increased,” said Truss. “Around 50 percent of the students that we offered the Pledge to, they enrolled. We believe it has played a very instrumental part in increasing access.”
When he first came on board at GVSU, Truss said he developed a “take our backyard,” philosophy, meaning he made it his priority that the university was accessible to students across West Michigan, a strategy that has paid dividends.
“More importantly, we’re making sure we are admitting the student and then giving them the ability to afford to come,” said Truss. “We’re seeing some significant growth based on that. Recruitment is just one part of it. If we don’t put the right retention pieces in place, then all of this is for naught.”