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UNO Teacher Education Department wins university-wide teaching award

Omaha, Neb. — University of Nebraska President Ted Carter announced that the Teacher Education Department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha is the recipient of the 2020 University-wide Departmental Teaching Award.

The UDTA, one of the President’s Excellence Awards, is the NU system’s most prestigious honor for departmental excellence in teaching. Since 1993, the UDTA has recognized departments or units within the university that have made unique and significant contributions to NU’s teaching efforts and that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the education of students at the undergraduate, graduate or professional levels.

Honored departments are selected by a committee of faculty members from across the university system.

“At the University of Nebraska, everything we do is about students – the young people who are the future leaders of our state,” Carter said. “UNO’s Teacher Education Department truly embodies that principle. The department’s students, faculty and staff are a model of collaboration and creativity in promoting teaching excellence at all levels. They make our university better, they strengthen our community and their contributions are growing Nebraska’s workforce and transforming the lives of young people across the state.

“I’m proud to celebrate the many achievements of the UNO Teacher Education Department.”

Chaired by Professor Kathy Danielson and housed in the College of Education under the leadership of Dean Nancy Edick, the Teacher Education Department has built a strong record of preparing highly qualified teachers who are prepared to succeed in diverse school districts in and around Omaha and across the state and region. Two out of every three educators in the Omaha metropolitan area hold a UNO degree, a reflection of the department’s deep connection to its community.

The Teacher Education Department has built an instructional culture that encourages and rewards high-quality teaching and prioritizes student education, faculty engagement, and diversity and inclusion. Among its successes:

· Several years ago, the department began a comprehensive redesign of its Bachelor of Science in Education curriculum. The resulting initiative, BRIDGES, is modeled after the clinical education approach used in medical schools in which block scheduling creates cohorts of students who move through courses and corresponding field experiences as a group. The new model has resulted in significant improvements in student experiences and outcomes.

· The College of Education launched a program called Career Advancement and Development for Recruits and Experienced Teachers, through which first-year teachers complete an accelerated master’s program while receiving support from UNO faculty, veteran teachers and other first-year teachers. The nationally recognized program allows for the exchange of knowledge and services between UNO and local school districts.

· Through its course offerings and community engagement, the department is a leader in advancing STEM education and early childhood education, two of UNO’s campus-wide priorities.

· The department’s faculty are committed to leveraging technology to enhance course delivery. For example, its online bachelor’s degree in library science has earned a top national ranking for its quality curriculum and 100 percent job placement rate among graduates who go on to work as academic librarians, technology coordinators, media archivists, public library directors and more.

· The department actively engages and supports its faculty. A mentoring program pairs tenure-track faculty members with tenured faculty who guides the junior faculty member through the reappointment, promotion and tenure process, and each part-time faculty member also receives one-on-one mentoring.

· The department promotes inclusivity, diversity and equity, for example through a “Culture Walks” program that provides teacher candidates with opportunities to experience the culture and history of minority populations.

· The Teacher Education Department has a strong record of securing external funding to support research and creative activity focused on improving instructional excellence. Department faculty frequently collaborate across the UNO campus, with UNL and UNK, and with district and community partners on scholarly projects to improve P-16 education. Over the past decade, interdisciplinary teams involving Teacher Education Department faculty collaborating with one or more Metropolitan Omaha Educational Consortium school districts account for more than $14 million in National Science Foundation funding for projects to improve student outcomes.

Carter will host a luncheon this spring to honor the Teacher Education Department.

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