Heritage University receives grant to train ELL teachers

HERITAGE UNIVERSITY NEWS RELEASE -- Heritage University's English Language Learner Academy & Institute (ELLA/ELLI) professional development model, which was recently named a finalist in the inaugural "Road Map Project Awards" for its work to eliminate learning gaps for students in south King County and south Seattle, has been chosen to prepare 100 educators in western Washington to serve English Language Learners (ELLs).

The Professional Education Standards Board (PESB) received a large grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to increase the number of educators with training and credentials to effectively teach ELL students. Heritage University will receive $464,000 from that grant to scale up the number of ELL and Bilingual Endorsed teachers in seven western Washington school districts in Seattle and South King County (Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, Seattle and Tukwila). These districts are part of the "Road Map Project," an initiative aimed at doubling the number of students on track to graduate from college, or earn career credentials by the year 2020. Those districts will work with Heritage to ensure educators receive the necessary training.

Heritage University's ELLA/ELLI Program is led by Dr. Tricia Valdez-Zontek, the Department Chair of Bilingual Education and ESL. Valdez-Zontek says Heritage has more than nine years of experience in working with school districts to prepare teachers to meet the needs of English Language Learner students.

"Heritage University is a leader in developing effective and responsive partnerships with school districts in the State of Washington. We are committed to building a partnership based on collaboration with the Road Map districts, as well as other districts in Washington, to provide teachers and instructional leaders with effective classroom practices for educating English Language Learners," says Valdez-Zontek.

Alexandra Manuel, PESB Director of Educator Pathways, stated that the Professional Educator Standard Board is pleased to bring together the partners for this collective impact project to scale up the number of ELL and Bilingual Endorsements in the Road Map region with Heritage University providing their instructional expertise.

"Heritage has a long history of preparing teachers for ELL and Bilingual Education endorsements throughout the state of Washington, and is the right institution to help us create more endorsed educators in the Road Map Project region. We believe Heritage will help us live up to the expectations set for us when we received funding from the Gates Foundation," says Manuel. "And increasing the number of ELL and bilingual endorsements in the region will increase the educational experiences for ELL students, and support the closure of the opportunity gap by ensuring teachers are prepared with instructional strategies to address the growing ELL population in schools."

The grant will fund high-quality professional development for 100 educators who will earn the bilingual and/or ELL endorsement offered by Heritage University. Heritage will provide ELL/Bilingual endorsement training for participants at schools within the seven Road Map districts. Also, participants will receive help preparing for the Washington Educator Skills Test Endorsement (WEST-E), and the ELL and/or Bilingual Endorsement exams.