TF South students to benefit from new college credit program and program for future teachers


LANSING, Ill. (March 26, 2021) – Imagine going off to college and having already received course credit from an Ivy League university.

Such lofty goals are in sight for TF South students, thanks to a new partnership with the National Equity Lab for the 2021-2022 academic year. The partnership will allow District 215 schools to offer college credit courses from Arizona State University, Cornell University, Harvard University, University of Connecticut, and Yale University.

More college opportunities

The online courses, offered during the school day, would be taught jointly with a teacher and a college professor.

The National Education Equity Lab is forging a new kind of relationship between U.S. colleges and high schools rooted in its belief that “while talent is evenly distributed, opportunity is not.” Its strategy focuses on empowering colleges to take a more active role in developing and inspiring the next generation of leaders.

By enabling high school students from historically underserved communities to take college courses, students can build the skills and confidence needed to apply to and thrive in college. Participating students can earn these widely-transferable college credits, at no cost to them, and have access to mentorship and hands-on support.

Supporting future educators

Some TF South students will become the next generation of teachers. To support them early on in their educational career path, District 215 has been awarded a $201,500 Career and Technical Education Pathway (CTE) grant from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

The grant will help students get a head start on learning how to become an educator through opportunities for hands-on instruction, dual credit, credentials, and mentorships.

ISBE has awarded more than $3.5 million in state funding for the initiative, supporting more than 1,000 high school students working toward a career in education. District 215’s award is part of a $1.5 million grant awarded to 38 high schools and vocational centers statewide.

Gov. JB Pritzker noted that the state’s fiscal 2020 budget included the first increase in state funding for CTE in five years.

“Since the first days of my governorship, I’ve directed our limited state resources toward the very investments that make our state thrive: more job creating businesses, improved care for our most vulnerable children and seniors and, of course, early childhood education and K-12 education,” Pritzker said.

The grant will help schools like TF South increase diversity of the teaching profession in Illinois. To qualify for the grant, District 215 submitted an implementation plan outlining how they will recruit underrepresented students into education careers to help meet the high demand for teachers of diversity across Illinois. The grant also requires a partnership between schools and institutions of higher learning so that students can earn dual credit or credentials prior to graduating high school.

“As we have seen time and time again throughout the pandemic, teachers are the heart and soul of their communities,” said Dr. Carmen I. Ayala, State Superintendent of Education. “Now, our future teachers will receive similar opportunities for leadership, recognition and early college credit. These initiatives are critical to strengthening and diversifying the teacher pipeline in Illinois.”

The District 215 Board of Education formally approved the National Equity Lab partnership and acceptance of the CTE grant at its March 23 meeting.


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Jim Masters grew up on 191st Street in Lansing. He attended Nathan Hale Elementary, was a member of St. Ann Church, graduated with the first graduating class at Heritage Middle School, and graduated from TF South High School in 1981. Inspired by his journalism teacher Joe Hyde, Jim earned a BA in Journalism from Northern Illinois University. He has more than 25 years of experience as beat reporter, specializing in government, politics, criminal justice, human interest stories, and education.