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Education faculty win national partnership award

AILACTE honored Vanessa Garcia and Ally Hauptman for their work resulting in hundreds of invested, long-term teachers in Tennessee.

Janel Shoun-Smith  | 

Ally Hauptman and Vanessa Garcia with their awards

Ally Hauptman (left) and Vanessa Garcia (right)

College of Education (COE) faculty Vanessa Garcia and Ally Hauptman were honored this school year with Lipscomb’s second recognition from the Association for Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education (AILACTE) for community partnerships.

Garcia, senior program director, and Hauptman, associate professor and Garcia’s lead faculty, were awarded the AILACTE Partnership Award, presented to those who have significantly engaged in substantial P-12 partnership. 

Garcia and Hauptman have led the effort to establish and implement partnerships with various Tennessee K-12 school districts to create the COE’s Grow Your Own program, creating a funnel for local school employees and community members to become classroom teachers in their home districts.

The purpose of the AILACTE Partnership Award is to recognize quality partnerships where each partner has structures and resources to support the work of the collaboration, and Garcia and Hauptman’s efforts have led to a no-cost education leading to licensure for 346 educators in Clarksville, Nashville and Hamilton, Rutherford and Williamson counties.

Seventy students enrolled in the Grow Your Own teacher prep program in the spring of 2022, and in 2023, the college received additional funding from the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) through the University of Tennessee-Knoxville's Grow Your Own Center to continue Lipscomb’s educator preparation pathways through the Tennessee Teacher Apprenticeship program. That will bring an expected 260 additional teacher candidates to Lipscomb through summer 2024.

The GYO partnership with the state is an effective and popular way for school districts to work toward diversifying their teaching ranks, said Garcia, who has been at Lipscomb for five years.

She spent 20 years in K-12 education before coming to Lipscomb and made it her personal goal to strengthen Lipscomb’s process for establishing K-12 partnerships. Her efforts came just as Middle Tennessee began to feel the effects of a teacher shortage.

“School districts large and small are calling wanting to establish these kinds of partnerships with us. It is exciting to see the continued trust factor and relationships that we're building across the state growing because that means we are able to help make a difference in the lives of more students,” she said.

“We have consistently done a great job of creating 40+ teacher candidates every summer for Clarksville,” said the award-winner. “We are about to enter the fourth year of doing this, and we are proud it has been so sustainable.”

Lipscomb’s partnerships have been particularly valuable to Tennessee’s school districts because teacher candidates are pulled from populations who are already active members of their school communities, and the candidates are paired with a master teacher for a year to reinforce core competencies. Analysis of Lipscomb’s programs has shown that this strategy keeps teachers in the classroom beyond five years, said Garcia.

“This award says we have a strong teacher licensure program overall,” said Garcia. “With more collaboration between teacher prep programs and K-12 schools, we can strategically combat the teacher shortage.”