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Philly’s Future Starts at School: Building a HS Career Pathway Program to Prepare the Next Generation of Teachers

One Philadelphia School is Creating a Ground-Breaking CTE Model 

A new, innovative program aimed at helping to produce the next generation of educators is being offered at the historic 90-year-old Dimner Beeber School building in West Philadelphia. Science Leadership Academy (SLA) at Beeber has been building a teacher pathway program since 2020 and is on the precipice of becoming one of the first schools to offer a state-certified career and technical education (CTE) K-12 program for teaching.

Launched during the pandemic, SLA@Beeber—an inquiry driven, project-based-learning middle and high school that focuses on developing students’ skills in our core values of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation, and reflection—has offered high school students exposure to teaching through Dual enrollment programming with Temple University and Community College of Philadelphia an elective course using the Liberation Academy curriculum produced by the Center for Black Educator Development; and in-school teaching assistant opportunities, where high-school students are paired with teachers to support their younger peers. These programs are all aimed at orienting students toward education as a potential career pathway.

“What we’ve been able to learn through our program offerings, from the teaching and instruction perspective, and from the student experiences, has been monumental. We have thoughtfully implemented each part of the program to meet the academic needs of a teaching career pathway and also create an opportunity for students to not only participate but engage in the content in a way that one would traditionally see in college.”
Gabe Kuriloff, Assistant Principal at SLA@Beeber and the school lead on the CTE proposal to the State

In total, about 100 high school students were engaged in at least one form of programming during the 2022-23 school year.

  • 54 high school students participated in the elective course produced by the Center for Black Educator Development with the Liberation Academy curriculum that is designed to introduce them to the role of schools and educators in society and their agency as community members in shaping the institutions.
  • 12 students earned college credits for successfully completing a teaching course led by SLA@Beeber staff members Gabe Kuriloff and Mary Connaghan that mirrored what would be offered to Temple University education students.
  • 25 students fully participated through the iTeaching Assistants program where students supported lead teachers in 5th to 10th grade classrooms, with around 10 students running mini-course offerings.

This work by SLA@Beeber and partners created an important foundation and readiness to create a full pathway program to prepare future teachers. In February, the Pennsylvania Department of Education launched the CTE program in K-12 Teaching.  SLA@Beeber  became the first public school in Philadelphia, and one of potentially only a handful in the entire state, to apply to the State of Pennsylvania for certification to offer a career and technical education (CTE) pathway for their students in Teacher Education.

“Becoming the first certified teaching pathway program in Philadelphia would be a tremendous opportunity for our school and an exciting component to a citywide approach to creating a talent pipeline. We need to develop as many future teachers as possible, especially a diverse group of educators with a love of educating Philadelphia youth, and we are ready to utilize our expert staff to tap into the potential of our students.”
SLA@Beeber Principal Christopher Johnson

One of the priority areas of Accelerate Philly, the District’s new five-year strategic plan, looks to recruit and retain diverse and highly effective educators. In alignment with the strategic plan, this program develops a teacher preparation program at a high school in partnership with colleges, universities, and the Center for Black Educator Development to help increase teacher diversity and make a positive impact on learning gains and the social-emotional well-being for students of color.

If approved by the State this summer, the official CTE pilot program will begin in fall 2023. Beyond serving as a teacher education pathway program, this new program aims to increase the pool of Black educators, educators of color, and educators who understand how to teach in culturally relevant ways.

“Learning about the positive impact on Black students’ mental health, continuing on to college and overall academic success of having just one Black teacher was eye opening,” recalled Malaya Ulan (on the right in the photo), a SLA@Beeber Junior who took the Liberation Academy Elective Course. “I can’t wait to continue with this program into my senior year, and to think about what the right pathway might look like for me to become a teacher after I leave high school.”
“I found it really interesting to learn about the local impact of Black business in Philadelphia and the national impact of historically Black colleges in producing Black Teachers,” added Janelle Payne (on the left in the photo), also a junior participating in the Liberation Academy Elective Course. “It made me reflect on the fact that I had Black female teachers that I could connect with growing up - and the impact of how they knew what was going on with me and could connect with my experience in the world.”

While Philadelphia, along with the state and country, deals with a shortage of trained and diverse teachers we must recognize there will need to be many strategies deployed to build a citywide pipeline of talented educators. This is so important, because if we do, we can create a pipeline that meets the needs of our schools, creates a diverse workforce that better reflects the student population, and ultimately creates a brighter future for our students.

Will you join us in supporting a diverse, effective, and committed teacher workforce in Philadelphia?