If you couldn’t tell from my previous post on Syd Dickson, I am a big fan. Today she sent out a letter to all the Utah educators. If you aren’t are her mailing list, you should be! Here is what she had to say:
Dear Education Colleagues,
As the school year begins for most of you, I want to take the opportunity to thank you for your dedication to ensuring Utah students are prepared for their future. The work of teaching and leading in schools is both daunting and joyful. I can think of no other profession that is as impactful as that of teaching and am proud to be counted among you. The Utah State Board of Education and their staff want to personally thank you for choosing this profession.
Much attention has been given to the recent Board passage of the Academic Pathway to Teaching (APT) license. The intention of this license is to respond to education leaders in the field who want another tool to be able to fill hard to staff positions, as well to create a way for potential effective teachers to enter the profession having come from other professions. This is not meant to be a slight to those of you who have come through a traditional route. The hiring and support of APT candidates is left to local discretion. We expect the hiring district or charter to support APT candidates by working with teacher preparation programs, professional development providers, and local experts to provide professional learning opportunities targeted at the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to be effective in the classroom. Effective mentoring is critical for all new teachers and we have to find better ways to support mentors with time and resources.
The Utah State Board of Education will be establishing a task force to study educator licensing and determine policies to improve licensure practices for all educators. In addition, we are engaged in the Network for Transforming Educator Preparation (NTEP) project. This is a three-year project, working with education preparation programs, to impact recruitment, preparation, and retention practices. Focus groups with educators have been held around the state to get input and ongoing stakeholder engagement will inform these Board projects.
Educator voices are very important to me. One of my personal goals is to promote your positive stories about public education. I specifically want to ensure your classroom success stories are being heard while getting clear about the conditions that make your job more challenging than it needs to be. To aid in this process I will have an interactive corner on the State Board website at http://www.schools.utah.gov. There you will find social media accounts and an email address where you can reach me directly. I wish you the best for a successful year.
Sydnee Dickson, Ed.D.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Utah State Board of Education
250 E. 500 S.
P.O. Box 144200
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4200
I think this letter was much needed, as many teachers are feeling undervalued in the state. I have had the chance to participate in the NTEP focus groups in Utah and can attest to the good work happening in our state. Diana Suddreth the State Director of Teaching and Learning is a champion of quality teachers and has been collaborating with stakeholders in Utah and nationally to make need improvements to teacher preparation. I know our State Superintendent is fighting the good fight and will make sure the students AND teachers are successful in our state.