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Voorhees Center of Excellence for Educator Preparation and Innovation
Contact: Dr. Theresa Riley 803-587-3065

DENMARK, SC –  Carrying out their mission to improve educator effectiveness and raise student achievement in high-need schools, a group of educators from the Voorhees University Center of Excellence for Educator Preparation and Innovation (EPI Center) recently spent a week working in Chicago and visiting schools. The Chicago SEED (Supporting Effective Educator Development) team met with leaders of several institutions, including the Youth Connection Charter School (YCCS), Innovations High School, Progressive Leadership Academy, Community Youth Development Institute, McKinley Lakeside Leadership Academy, and Community Christian Academy.

Project Director Dr. Andress Carter-Sims says they are working to empower and improve instructional efficacy while ensuring that each institution continues to cultivate a pipeline of diverse educators who are equipped with the competencies needed to improve instruction and learning. “We are replicating some of the work of renowned educator Marva Collins. From aspiring educators to existing educators, we want to advance student learning by giving educators what they need to be successful and make an indelible mark on their profession,” said Dr. Carter-Sims.

One of several priorities is to increase educator efficacy and attract educators to this rewarding field of education to include those with diverse or nontraditional backgrounds to obtain alternative certification and licensure to teach. Opening doors to equitable access to resources and opportunities for students while meeting their social, emotional and academic needs are additional priorities. Team leaders will also guide teachers through the rigorous process of obtaining National Board Certification, the most respected teaching credential available.

Voorhees University and its partners, YCCS, The Institute for Organizational Coherence, KDR Global Education Solutions, The Center for Research & Mentoring of Black Male Students & Teachers at Bowie State University and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards received a three-year, federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education to pursue this work.

Joining Dr. Carter-Sims on the Chicago SEED team are Kathy McMillan-Bennon, Clinical Education Manager; Dr. Audrey Harris, Curriculum Content Developer; Nadine Edney, Professional Development Coordinator; Dr. Damara Hightower Mitchell, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Voorhees University and Executive Director of the EPI Center; Dr. Tondaleya Jackson, Associate Professor, Voorhees University, and Director of the EPI Center; Jesse Outen, Senior Clinical Faculty Advisor and Improvement Coach; Dr. Gwenda R. Greene, Founding Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Continuing Education, and Integrative Learning; Ponya Wray, Executive Administrative Assistant; and YCCS officials Executive Director, Sheila Venson; Assistant Director, Larry Vaughn and Chief Education Officer, Dr. Traci Brown.

The Chicago SEED team, in collaboration with their national partners, are working together with YCCS to design and build capacity across 17 campuses in Chicago to ensure that each participating educator is successful in the classroom.

For more information on the EPI Center please visit https://www.epipathways.org.

About Voorhees University

Voorhees University, founded by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright in 1897, is a private, coeducational institution affiliated with the Episcopal Church and the United Negro College Fund. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and graduate degrees. Its mission is to produce highly qualified graduates who coalesce intellect and faith in pursuit of life-long learning, healthy living, the betterment of society, and an abiding faith in God. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Voorhees as a #1 best value, #3 in social mobility and #33 among regional colleges in the south in 2022-2023; and #26 among Historically Black Colleges and Universities, nationally. Additional information about Voorhees University can be found at www.voorhees.edu.


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