The UCF Teacher Quality Partnerships program is designed to recruit, prepare, and sustain highly-effective teachers with specific foci in mathematics to support students with diverse learning needs. Ongoing collaborative efforts ensure project services are personalized, job-embedded, and practice-changing for teacher candidates, supervising teachers, instructional coaches, and professors-in-residence.

Through this project, teams at the University of Central Florida and Orange County Public Schools collaborate to align resources and support for teacher candidates. In addition to receiving ongoing support from their supervising teacher, teacher candidates are a part of a professional learning community at their school site facilitated by a university professor-in-residence. The professor-in-residence engages teacher candidates in weekly conversations around evidence-based instructional practices for mathematics, culturally responsive teaching, social-emotional learning, and wellness and self-care. Professional learning activities are co-constructed and job-embedded to meet individual learning needs identified by UCF instructional staff, OCPS leadership and instructional staff, and school-based instructional coaches.

Learn More from our UCF Teacher Candidates

Learning from our Students

The TQP Project held Student Focus Groups with students from our partner site schools and surrounding communities. Project leaders and partners spent time with students asking them about their experiences in school, what they enjoy, how they learn best, and what they would change if they were in charge. A great reminder of why we do what we do in education. Highlighting the voices of students is key for enhancing educational practices in ways that make a difference for students!

Professional Learning

Teacher Quality Partnerships ED Talk - Helping students and families work through trauma; Dr. Kim Anderson

Dr. Kim Anderson, is an Professor of Social Work and Public Affairs at the University of Central Florida (UCF). Dr. Kim Anderson’s scholarship focuses on examining trauma recovery and resilience in populations impacted by violence. For 25 years she has practiced and conducted research in the trauma field. Dr. Anderson trains school personnel on Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS)(group intervention) and mental health professionals on Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) (child-parent intervention). This talk will address empirical findings and conceptual insights for educators to assist people affected by violence and oppression to cultivate their strengths and resilient capacities and why understanding health equity is imperative in responding to educational inequities. Educators can learn realistic ways to practice supportive and reflective ways to tolerate and respond to negative emotions.

Teacher Quality Partnerships ED Talk - Engaging the Community; Dr. Amanda Wilkerson

D.r Amanda Wilkerson, is an Assistant Professor in the College of Community Innovation and Education at the University of Central Florida (UCF). Dr. Amanda Wilkerson’s scholarship focuses on deconstructing culturally relevant pedagogical practices associated with teaching underserved student learners within the K-20 classroom. Her work explicates affirmative practices, policies, and organizing methods to leverage community partnerships and involvement for student learning. This talk will address community ecological contexts and community-school partnerships critical to transititions educators from behaviors individuality to collectivity impact and why understanding equity and cultural nuances are imperative in responding to challenges in the implementation of community engagement. An increasingly growing education population requires educators who actively pursue relational intelligence and community strengths.

Teacher Quality Partnerships ED Talk - Self-Care and Wellness; Dr. Shainna Ali

Dr. Shainna Ali, is a Professor of Counselor Education, Founder of Integrated Counseling Solutions, as well as a Florida Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Dr. Shainna Ali’s scholarship focuses on exploring identity and culture, emotional intelligence, & creativity methods in counseling. Dr. Ali is a past president of the Florida Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development, presently serves on the editorial boards for the Journal for Creativity in Mental Health and the Journal of Counseling Sexology & Sexual Wellness: Research, Practice, and Education, and is an ambassador for the International Registry of Counselor Education programs. She is also passionate about crafting research-informed, interactive presentations and workshops pertaining to mental health education. This talk will address embracing the science of emotional wellness and helping participants tailor a personal plan for self-care. Audiences gain an increasing literacy pertaining to mental health awareness, assessment, and maintenance.

Teacher Quality Partnerships ED Talk - Embracing the Art of Self-Compassion; Dr. Coralis Solomon

Dr. Coralis Solomon, is an Assistant Professor of Counseling, Rehabilitation and Interpreter Training at the Troy University, as well as a Florida Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Dr. Coralis Solomon’s scholarship focuses on examining self-compassion and emotional resilience with minority teachers working in elementary schools. Her commitment to the mental health counseling field goes beyond private practice as she is a nationally and internationally recognized speaker and a published author in the area of mindful self-compassion and burnout in the job prevention. This talk will address embracing the science of self-compassion and why understanding one's inner critic is imperative in responding to maintaining educator emotional wellness. Mindful self-compassion for educators requires community, and an awareness of self-criticism and compassionate encouragements.

Teacher Quality Partnerships ED Talk - Building school community in the age of COVID-19; Dr. Kimberly Renk

Dr. Kimberly Renk, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Central Florida (UCF). Dr. Kimberly Renk’s scholarship focuses on examining issues related to parent-young child connection, especially when families are struggling with problems in living, changes in caregivers, substance use and other psychological disorders, trauma, and abuse or neglect. Her research laboratory work, Understanding Young Children and Families, provides a forum for investigating a variety of Infant Mental Health-related issues, for providing evidence-based and trauma-informed services to families with young children who are 6-years of age and younger (through the Young Children and Families Research Clinic [YCFRC]), and for building community partnerships meant to better serve high-risk families and their young children in Central Florida. This talk will address evidence based best practices critical to building school community in the age of COVID-19 and why understanding health equity is imperative in responding to educational inequities. Educators can learn realistic ways to connect to be supportive and reflective with students, as opposed adversarial.

Teacher Quality Partnerships ED Talk - Disrupting Educational Practices; Dr. L. Trenton Marsh

Dr. L. Trenton Marsh, is an Assistant Professor of Urban Education in the Department of Learning Sciences and Educational Research at the University of Central Florida (UCF). Dr. L. Trenton Marsh’s scholarship focuses on examining lived experiences of youth/families of color, conceptualization of success equitable pedagogies, policies, and processes in urban schools. His work explores the way in which experiences of low-income students and families of color inform equitable pedagogies, policies, and processes in educative spaces serving PreK-12 and higher education students. This talk will address socio-cultural contexts and practices critical to disrupting diversity deficit educational practices and why understanding equity and educational justice are imperative in responding to educational inequities. An increasingly growing education population requires educators who acknowledge disproportionality, disconnection and dehumanization to build relational resistance.

Learning with National Experts

Overhauling the Transmission Model Webinar with Alfie Kohn.

Dr. Kohn describes educational attributes of highly-successful schools.

Coaching Sessions with Professors-in-Residence

Teacher candidates have the opportunity to receive job-embedded coaching and support from their on-site professor-in-residence. Coaching conversations center around student learning and best practices, such as culturally responsive teaching, Universal Design for Learning, student engagement and self-care.

Publications and Scholarship

Pike, L., Herbert, L., Slanda, D. D., & Little, M. (2020). Digital sponsorship of pre-service teacher interns during COVID-19. In R. E. Ferdig, E. Baumgartner, R. Hartshorne, R. Kaplan-Rakowski, & C. Mouza (Eds.), Teaching, Technology, And Teacher Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Stories from the Field, Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved from:

Pike, L., & Carli, M. (2020). Leveraging Best Practice in Teacher Residency to Enhance Teacher Preparation. SRATE Journal, 29(2), n2.

Shillingford, M.A., Herbert, .L, and Gaskin-Butler, V. (2020, in press). Eating Disorders. Shillingford-Bulter, A., Gonzalez, T. (Eds.), Demystifying the DSM for School Counselors. San Diego, CA: Cognella Academic Publishing.

Curriculum Resources

The curriculum enhancements developed for the Teacher Quality Partnerships program were created as a collaborative effort among UCF faculty. Professors-in-residence will partner with UCF faculty and OCPS administration and instructional coaches to deliver the curriculum through professional learning activities, rich discourse and coaching cycles.

“Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.”
Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India

What is it?

Culturally responsive teaching is an approach to enhance and engage student involvement through a variety of connections (Noguera, 2015). There is growing evidence that strong, continual engagement among diverse students requires a holistic approach — that is, an approach where the how, what and why of teaching are unified and meaningful (Ogbu, 1995; Kiyama & Aguilar-Rios, 2017).

Why is it important?

Culturally responsive, inclusive teaching practices lay the foundation for building content knowledge and provide opportunity for social and emotional learning within a classroom community (Ladson-Billings, 2001).

Our Goal

To improve mastery of rigorous academic standards in mathematics and disciplinary literacy for students with diverse learning needs, using culturally responsive teaching practices within classroom and school cultures to develop safe, caring, and inclusive classrooms and schools.



Kiyama, J. M., & Rios-Aguilar, C. (Eds.). (2017). Funds of knowledge in higher education: Honoring students’ cultural experiences and resources as strengths. Routledge.

Ladson-Billings, G. (2004). Crossing Over to Canaan.: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms. John Wiley & Sons.

Noguera, P., Pierce, J., & Ahram, R. (Eds.). (2015). Race, equity, and education: Sixty years from brown. Springer.

Ogbu, J. U. (1995). Cultural problems in minority education: Their interpretations and consequences—Part one: Theoretical background. The Urban Review, 27(3), 189-205.

"An environment that is universally designed for learning shows students there are multiple ways to be successful, multiple ways to solve problems, and multiple ways to learn from mistakes."

Design for Learning in Action by: Whitney H. Rapp

What is it?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an inclusive education model framework for teaching based on scientific research about how people learn (CAST, 2019). This framework considers and provides for all types of learners, ensuring access and opportunity to learn, understand, and connect.  Specifically, UDL targets the way in which learners are Engaged, how information is Represented, and how students can take Action and Express their learning.  UDL calls for the differentiation of these key networks in order to reach every student.

Why is it important?

Incorporating the principles of Universal Design for Learning into lesson planning is key to creating a foundation for learning that values and considers all ways of learning for all students. Curriculum standards seek a focus on high-level conceptual understanding, problem-solving and disciplinary literacy (NRC, 2009). At the core of this are principles of student engagement and the importance of making connections between content and real world contexts (Tarr et al., 2008). Approaching lesson planning through the UDL framework ensures that the needs and strengths of all students are embedded in instruction and activities, and that each and every student has access and opportunity to learn and grow.

Our Goal

To improve mastery of rigorous academic standards in mathematics and disciplinary literacy for students with diverse learning needs, by using the Universal Design for Learning approach to ensure that all learners can access and participate in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities.



Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). (2019). About universal design for learning.

National Research Council. (2009). Mathematics learning in early childhood: Paths toward excellence and equity. Washington, DC: The National Academies.

Tarr, J. E., Reys, R. E., Reys, B. J., Chavez, O., Shih, J., & Osterlind, S. J. (2008). The impact of middle-grades mathematics curricula and the classroom learning environment on student achievement. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 247-280.

"Mathematics is not about numbers, equations, computations or algorithms: it is about understanding."

William Paul Thurston

What is it?

Disciplinary Literacy focuses on teaching learners the unique tools experts in a discipline use within their work. It emphasizes the importance of the knowledge and abilities possessed by those who create, communicate, and use knowledge within the disciplines (Shanahan & Shanahan, 2012). In mathematics, disciplinary literacy means teaching students to think, know, reason, utilize, and explain mathematics like a mathematician (Hillman, 2014). Being able to calculate numbers does not mean a student can think mathematically (Piatek‐Jimenez et al., 2012). Thinking mathematically promotes and requires a deeper conceptualization of mathematics (Lee & Spratley, 2010), which is what disciplinary literacy practices seek to develop.

Faculty from UCF, TQP team members, and national leading consultants have produced professional learning opportunities related to mathematics and disciplinary literacy. The concepts included are grounded in the 8 Effective Teaching Practices from Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All (NCTM, 2014) and the Taking Action: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices series (NCTM, 2017) from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

Why is it important?

In addition to helping teachers better understand the math discipline, infusing instructional practices focused on disciplinary literacy into mathematics education supports successful student-reader interactions with mathematics texts and facilitates authentic learning experiences that students can connect to (Shanahan & Shanahan, 2012). Teaching mathematics for disciplinary literacy assists students in developing subject-area specific knowledge and skills that they can translate to use in college, career, and the broader world (Zygouris-Coe, 2012).

Our Goal

To improve mastery of rigorous academic standards in mathematics and disciplinary literacy for students with diverse learning needs.

During Internship I, teacher candidates will receive professional learning on:

  • Establishing mathematics goals to focus learning
  • Implementing tasks that promote reasoning and problem solving
  • Building procedural fluency from conceptual understanding

During Internship II, teacher candidates will receive professional learning on:

  • Posing purposeful questions
  • Using and connecting mathematical representations
  • Eliciting and using evidence of student thinking
  • Supporting productive struggle in learning mathematics



Hillman, A. M. (2014). A literature review on disciplinary literacy: How do secondary teachers apprentice students into mathematical literacy?. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy57(5), 397-406.

Lee, C. D., & Spratley, A. (2010). Reading in the disciplines: The challenges of adolescent literacy. Final Report from Carnegie Corporation of New York's Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy. Carnegie Corporation of New York.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). (2014). Principles to actions: Ensuring mathematical success for all. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Smith, M. S. (Ed). (2017). Taking action: Implementing effective mathematics teaching practices [Series]. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Piatek-Jimenez, K., Marcinek, T., Phelps, C. M., & Dias, A. (2012). Helping students become quantitatively literate. MatheMatics teacher105(9), 692-696.

Shanahan, T., & Shanahan, C. (2012). What is disciplinary literacy and why does it matter? Topics in language disorders32(1), 7-18.

Zygouris-Coe, V. (2012). Disciplinary literacy and the common core state standards. Topics in Language Disorders32(1), 35-50.

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."
Benjamin Franklin

What is it?

Student engagement is meaningful student involvement throughout the learning environment, and includes cognitive, behavioral, and emotional engagement (Martin & Torres, 2016). Empowering teachers to consider multiple methods of engagement and the individual backgrounds and characteristics of their students when planning for their classroom is key. Creating an environment that reflects and provides for each individual not only engages every learner, but shows value for the learning and well-being of all students.

Why is it important?

Educational research has long shown that classroom communication and how teachers and students interact strongly influences student learning and understanding (Bickmore, Brand & Gawned, 1990; Roschelle, Penuel, & Abrahamson, 2004). Cognitive and effective engagement of students in their own learning is essential to sustainable academic growth (Frye et al., 2013). Additionally, the provision of meaningful and engaging pedagogy and curriculum and personalized learning environments contributes significantly to student success (Klem & Connell, 2004). Underpinning successful engagement strategies and practices is the development of positive, productive relationships between teachers and students (Roorda et al., 2011).

Our Goal

To improve mastery of rigorous academic standards in mathematics and literacy for students with diverse learning needs through meaningful student engagement, student-centered classroom environments, and strong student-teacher relationships.



Bender, W. N. (2017). 20 Strategies to Increase Student Engagement.

Bickmore-Brand, J., & Gawned, S. (1990). Scaffolding for improved mathematical understanding. Language in mathematics, 43-58.

Frye, D., Baroody, A. J., Burchinal, M., Carver, S. M., Jordan, N. C., & McDowell, J. (2013). Teaching math to young children: A practice guide (NCEE 2014-4005). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

Klem, A. M., & Connell, J. P. (2004). Relationships matter: Linking teacher support to student engagement and achievement. Journal of school health, 74(7), 262-273.

Martin, J., & Torres, A. (2016). What is student engagement and why is it important. Retrieved May, 4, 2018.

Roorda, D. L., Koomen, H. M., Spilt, J. L., & Oort, F. J. (2011). The influence of affective teacher–student relationships on students’ school engagement and achievement: A meta-analytic approach. Review of educational research, 81(4), 493-529.

Roschelle, J., Penuel, W. R., & Abrahamson, L. (2004, April). Classroom response and communication systems: Research review and theory. In Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA (pp. 1-8).

"Education must not simply teach work – it must teach life."

W. E. B. Du Bois

What is it?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is defined as having capacity to regulate one’s own emotions accurately, which in turn improves problem solving and relational skills (Zins & Elias, 2007). The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) provides five core competencies for student and teacher career readiness, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making (CASEL, 2017). There is growing evidence that social-emotional skills are associated with increased confidence, mental health, empathy, resilience & self-esteem (Lashway,2002).

Why is it important?

Given the need for positive classroom and school cultures, it is imperative our students are given the tools to support their mental and emotional health (Osher & Berg, 2017). Fortunately, CASEL correlated Focus on Social Emotional framework offers equitable and flexible guidelines. The TQP Social Emotional technical working group developed and facilitated an evidenced based and CASEL aligned series of SEL workshops on emotion expression and empathy, conflict resolution, relationships and communication.

Our Goal

To improve awareness of the nature of stress and the impact on the mind and body for both teachers in training and students with diverse learning needs, and to provide evidenced based knowledge about wellness beliefs and behaviors that nurture wellbeing and resources for burnout prevention and coping.



Belfield, C., Bowden, B., Klapp, A., Levin, H., Shand, R., & Zander, S. (2015). The economic value of social and emotional learning.  Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education.

Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D. & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1):405–432.

Madda, M. J. (2019). Dena Simmons: Without context, social-emotional learning can backfire. Retrieved from

Taylor, R., Oberle, E., Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2017). Promoting positive youth development through school-based social and emotional learning interventions: A meta-analysis of follow-up effects. Child Development, 88, 1156-1181. DOI:10.1111/cdev.12864

Our Team

Principal Investigator

Co-Principal Investigator

Co-Principal Investigator

Project Manager

Project Coordinator


June Jones, Ed.D.


C. Douglas Charles, Ph.D.

Graduate Research Associate

Christine De Stefano, MA

Graduate Research Associate

Lindsey Pike, MSW

Graduate Research Associate

Léa Herbert, MHC, NCC


Olivia Tidd

Our Professors in Residence

Teacher Candidates as Assets

Classroom Community

This clip discusses examples of teacher candidates supporting their supervising teachers in building a positive classroom culture through meaningful relationships.

Classroom Technology

This clip shares how our teacher candidates design lessons and create intentional supports based on data to meet individual student needs.

Meeting Student Needs

This clip shares how our teacher candidates embrace emerging technologies to support student learning for all students.

Classroom Partners

This clip shows how teacher candidates, supervising teachers, and clinical coordinators partner to use research-based practices and meet the social-emotional needs of all learners.


Have questions? 



University of Central Florida
4000 Central Florida Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32816

The contents of this website were developed under TQP, a Department of Education grant within the Effective Educator Development Programs in the US Department of Education, #U336S180044. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

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