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Franklin Pierce School District joins innovative Seed Teacher program to promote equitable education

Franklin Pierce School District joins innovative Seed Teacher program to promote equitable education

The Seed Teachers program establishes teacher pathways by recruiting high school seniors from the local community

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Two PLU students sit in a classroom and look into the camera.

Image: The first Seed Teacher program cadre started at PLU in the fall of 2023. (Photo by Sharon Ho Chang)

November 21, 2023

Franklin Pierce School District (FPS) announces it is joining the innovative Seed Teachers program, a transformative initiative developed by Tacoma-based nonprofit Degrees of Change in partnership with Pacific Lutheran University (PLU).

“The Seed Teachers program is a perfect fit for our district. It creates continuity for students to pursue a degree so that they can come back and have an impact on students in their home community. This journey will empower graduates with scholarships, mentorship, and hands-on work experience within our schools, shaping them into future leaders in education,” said Franklin Pierce Schools Superintendent, Lance Goodpaster. 

Launched in spring 2023, the Seed Teachers program aims to build a more equitable school system by helping diverse homegrown leaders become high-impact educators who reflect the students they serve.

Initially involving Tacoma Public Schools (TPS), Degrees of Change, and PLU, the partnership has expanded to include Franklin Pierce School District. This expansion reinforces a commitment to investing in local, diverse talent, and cultivating educators with deep connections to their communities.

Tacoma Public Schools serves 65 % students of color, and neighboring Franklin Pierce Schools serves 73% students of color. Ample research shows students of color have better academic outcomes when taught by teachers who look like them. Yet 80% of TPS teachers are white, and 74% of FPS teachers are white.

“We are thrilled to embark on a transformative partnership with the Franklin Pierce School District through our Seed Teachers program,” said Marquise Dixon, CEO of Degrees of Change. 

“This collaboration represents a shared commitment to nurturing educators who will inspire and shape the future. Together, we aspire to cultivate a thriving learning environment for students, fostering growth and empowerment in every classroom,” concluded Dixon.

A group of students stand on stairs outside and look into the camera and smile.
Seed Teachers is a collaborative program by Degrees of Change, Tacoma Public Schools, Franklin Pierce School District, and Pacific Lutheran University. (Photo by Ron Storer)
Two PLU students look at a lap top during a class.
The Seed Teacher program provides Pierce County students with a cohort-based, debt-free route to obtaining their college degree and teacher certification, leading to high-impact teaching positions in their home community. (Photo by Sharon Ho Chang)

Key highlights of the Seed Teachers program include:

  • Scholarships: Scholars receive an exceptional scholarship package at Pacific Lutheran University that meets their total financial need with no more than $5,000 in loans yearly.
  • Supportive Cohort: Scholars benefit from a supportive cohort experience, creating a network of like-minded individuals dedicated to positively impacting education.
  • Extensive Mentoring: The program offers extensive mentoring, ensuring that future educators receive the guidance and support needed for their professional growth and success.
  • Paid Work Experience: Scholars will gain valuable hands-on experience through paid work opportunities at their school district throughout their college tenure, enriching their practical understanding of the education system.

“The addition of Franklin Pierce School District to the Seed Teacher program means we will have an even greater impact on the current teacher workforce,” remarked Mary Jo Larsen, assistant dean of education at PLU.

“We look forward to welcoming the newest cohort to campus, offering them transformative field experiences, and upholding our dedication to excellence in professional and liberal arts education, inspiring a journey of growth and accomplishment in education,” concluded Larsen.

For more on the Seed Teachers program, visit the Seed Teacher program. Watch videos of the first Seed Teachers scholars on YouTube.