Advisory board members are critical to the success of our work, and their voices guarantee that our work meets the region’s needs. The board—which represents a broad range of Illinois and Iowa stakeholders—advises Region 9 staff on strategies for addressing the region’s education needs, maintaining high quality standards, and promoting improved student academic achievement.
- David Ardrey, Executive Director, Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools
- Carmen Ayala, State Superintendent, Illinois State Board of Education
- Lindsey Jensen, 2018 Illinois Teacher of the Year and Early Career Development Director, Illinois Education Association
- Mark Klaisner, President, Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools
- Teresa Lance, Assistant Superintendent for Equity and Innovation, School District U-46 (Elgin, Illinois)
- Maggie Perales, Organizer, Southwest Organizing Project
- Bonnie Ho, Principal, Pui Tak Christian School
Advisory Board Affinity Groups
The Region 9 Comprehensive Center (R9CC) Advisory Board represents a broad range of stakeholders in Illinois and Iowa. R9CC relies on the advisory board to provide advice on strategies to address the region’s educational needs, maintain a high standard of quality, and promote improved student academic achievement. In September 2021, Region 9 introduced the advisory board affinity groups, which split the board into two small groups to discuss educational needs and current topics of interest in Region 9 as they align with the priorities proposed by the U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona. The affinity groups discussed (a) equity in education, which aligns with Secretary Cardona’s second priority, “Promoting Equity in Student Access to Educational Resources, Opportunities and Welcoming Environments,” and (b) a diverse teacher and leader workforce, which aligns with Secretary Cardona’s third priority, “Supporting a Diverse Educator Workforce and Professional Growth to Strengthen Student Learning.”
Advisory Board Reports & Resources
Between September 2021 to June 2021, the board met in their affinity groups and developed resources that discussed how their topics related to educational needs in the region. These three resources came out of their work:
1. Recruitment and Retention: Innovative Ideas
Illinois and Iowa have struggled with recruitment and retention of effective and diverse teachers. In addition, teacher enrollment rates have declined more rapidly than general postsecondary enrollment. With increased national attention on teacher shortages and the influx of funds from COVID-19 relief packages, state education agencies and local school districts have an opportunity to leverage funds for transformational change that places our most talented individuals in the classroom. The Region 9 Comprehensive Center advisory board members in the diverse teacher and leader workforce affinity group discussed innovative strategies to attract and retain the next generation of teachers. This resource outlines innovative ideas shared by advisory board members and accompanying research.
“In this kind of work, we have to stop looking at things as they are and imagine them as they could be, and that requires work.”
— Lindsey Jensen, R9CC Board Member, 2018 Teacher of the Year
Topics Covered In The Report
This section includes strategies and initiatives that seek to attract individuals to the profession, such as grow your own programs, financial incentives for student teaching, and targeted recruitment. Some examples include the Educators Rising curriculum and GYO programming in Illinois, the Peoria Grow Your Own initiative, and the Oklahoma State Department paid student teaching initiative.
This section includes strategies and initiatives to prepare educators, such as registered teacher apprenticeships and teacher residencies. This section also includes alternative certification programs, a strategy which seeks to prepare educators seeking nontraditional avenues to licensure. Examples include the Teacher Intern Program at Morningside University in Iowa and Tennessee’s teacher apprenticeship program.
This section includes strategies and initiatives that seek to develop, support, and retain quality, diverse educators in the profession. Examples include parent mentor programs, the four-day school week and other flexible and innovative school schedules. This section includes emerging programs and ideas, including the Opportunity Culture model, team-based staffing models, and other examples of innovative ideas and programs which seek to re-structure the traditional school day schedule.
2. Supporting a Diverse Educator Workforce and Professional Growth to Strengthen Student Learning
While recruiting and retaining teachers of color has long been an unrealized policy goal, the tide may be beginning to turn. In 2022, the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Miguel Cardona emphasized the importance of diversifying the educator workforce and called attention to four key areas to close equity gaps in education to strengthen student learning. In response to Secretary Cardona’s call, the R9CC used a mixed-methods approach of examining national and state demographic data, conducting policy scans, and conducting interviews with Advisory Board members to provide insights and strategies for supporting a diverse teacher workforce and professional growth to strengthen student learning in the region and nationwide that align with the four key areas.
Suggestions You'll Find Inside
This section of the report provides research on the relationship between teacher diversity and student achievement and provides a descriptive analysis of student and teacher diversity nationwide and within the R9CC. Research points to positive effects on student wellness and academic achievement outcomes when a diverse educator workforce is established. School districts and education systems in the region and nationwide have seen gains in student diversity and have opportunities for growth in hiring and retaining a diverse educator workforce that reflects the student population.
This section of the report offers recruitment strategies for attracting and retaining teachers of color and provides guidance on establishing and maintaining supportive teaching environments. The Secretary’s call to boldly address opportunity gaps encourages states and districts to invest in, recruit for, and support professional development initiatives so people from all backgrounds can be both welcome and successful in the educator workforce. Strategies include partnering with Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs), exploring strategies from other fields, hiring in cohorts, offering strong mentoring, and providing diverse spaces like affinity groups.
This section of the report describes the promising programs and policies states have implemented to address systemic barriers to accessing the educator workforce once students exit teacher preparation programs. Examples highlight the policies states across the country and within the region have implemented or changed to close affordability and inclusivity gaps in higher education and the teacher workforce such as establishing loan forgiveness programs and reconsidering teacher licensure exams.
This section of the report highlights Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that offer P—12 students opportunities to explore education as a career pathway. Cardona’s vision for American education calls for supporting career preparation programs that meet current and future education and economic needs. Noted programs include Educators Rising and Teachers of Tomorrow.
3. Supporting Students in Effective Transitions: What Students Have to Say
Youth returning to traditional school settings from non-traditional settings, such as alternative schools, face significant barriers to successful transition. Based on information gathered through student focus groups and a literature review, the Region 9 Comprehensive Center Advisory Board developed four recommendations for youth-serving adults working with students who are transitioning back to a traditional school environment or are at-risk of dropping out. Our hope is that these four recommendations can be used to better support students and reduce the barriers that they face when transitioning back to, or struggling in, a traditional school environment.
Suggestions You'll Find Inside
Youth-serving adults should ensure that each student has at least one adult they can trust who shows genuine interest in their well-being and helps them explore personal and academic solutions.
Youth-serving adults should work to improve communication with the student and anyone directly involved with the student to ensure the student and their needs stay at the center of all conversations.
Youth-serving adults should consider using restorative justice practices when working with students rather than standard disciplinary practices that are punitive in nature.
Youth-serving adults should take measures to better understand the students’ individual situations and identify how the school environment may influence their lives.