by Claire Miller
The College of Education’s Network for Enhancing Teacher Quality (NET-Q) project, funded by a $13.5 million Teacher Quality Partnership grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is a collection of programs, partnerships, initiatives and incentives designed to prepare teachers for the demands of teaching high-need subjects in high-need schools.
And it’s DaShaunda Patterson’s job as project director to manage the daily operations that come with such a grant. In addition, Patterson is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education (EPSE) and works directly with COE students involved in the grant.
Patterson recently sat down to discuss her decision to work in higher education, her work with the NET-Q grant and why she loves working in the COE.
Q: How did you first become interested in working in higher education?
A: Initially, my plan was to become a teacher and ascend in the ranks at the school system level. I never really considered higher education as an option. I became a teacher but I left that position after a few years to become a full-time doctoral student. And part of the vision of the faculty leading that doctoral program was to prepare us to become educators in higher education.
Q: In your own words, how would you describe the NET-Q project?
A: Overall, NET-Q seeks to develop highly-qualified teachers for the workforce in shortage areas – science, math and special education – and to help provide highly-qualified teachers in high-need schools. Research tells us that when schools are staffed, new teachers or teachers with less experience are often matched with higher-need schools. We’re providing our new teachers with unique experiences that give them more tools in their toolbox and help them become better equipped to go out into the field and teach successfully.
Those are our primary goals, and we’re able to achieve them through our multiple partnerships with community-based organizations, other universities, Georgia Public Broadcasting and six metro-Atlanta school systems. It’s a very big network of people but our partners are positive and eager to support us and to receive the support that we’re able to offer them through this grant.
Q: You serve as a clinical assistant professor in EPSE, as well as the project director for NET-Q. What do those two jobs entail?
A: As a clinical assistant professor, my primary responsibility is to supervise the special education practicum students involved in the NET-Q project. I teach some of their courses, I serve as their advisor and I support them with any type of training or professional development that they need, along with the NET-Q Residency team. I also work with their cooperating teachers on research projects that our NET-Q residents complete, so I serve as the faculty member in what we call the TIP (teacher-intern-professor) model. I help them lead their school-based research.
As the project director for NET-Q, my job is to manage the day-to-day operations of the grant. I make sure that our residents have placements, stay connected with the administrators and the teachers in our partner schools, and coordinate events, such as the 3rd annual NET-Q Summer Institute on June 14.
Q: What do you enjoy the most about working in the COE?
A: I love being in schools and seeing our teachers blossom. From August to April or May, you can see them develop confidence and a passion for working with students. That really makes me happy. I also like collaborating with my colleagues who enjoy advocating for kids and who understand the complexities of the work that we do.
I like working in the College of Education because people are always moving forward. You can tell that there’s an energy in this building – people are always working on new projects and people aren’t stagnant. Everyone is growing and they encourage you to grow.
For more information about NET-Q, visit http://net-q.coe.gsu.edu/.