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UCF Teaching Academy to Benefit K-20 Education

Courtesy of University of Central Florida

The distinctive design of the new education facility.

Educators at the University of Central Florida set out six years ago to create an academy where teachers could learn proven and promising practices in teaching, learning and leadership. They wanted it to be a place where teachers, politicians and the community would come together as partners to improve education and support lifelong learning.

They turned to these citizens and asked them to brainstorm what such an institution would be, physically and in its mission, and on October 2, they celebrated the grand opening of the UCF Academy for Teaching, Learning and Leadership.

"The UCF Academy provides new opportunities for the university to reach out in serving the metropolitan area with collaborative programs that bring added value to education, schools and individuals," said UCF College of Education Dean Sandra Robinson, who joined Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings and President John Hitt to officially unveil the Academy. "The Academy is a true hub for partnership in education."

It will be home to the Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute, named for the lieutenant governor and former state legislator who has been instrumental in supporting education initiatives. It will also house Florida's Literacy and Reading Excellence Center, or FLaRE; the Lockheed Martin Academy for Mathematics and Science; the Consortium for Social Responsibility and Character in Education; and the UCF Fellows, a collaboration on intercollegiate, multidisciplinary projects that advance research focused on K-20 education.

The Academy is partnering with other educational institutions, including the Department of Education, the 11 school districts in Central Florida, businesses and community agencies to prepare teachers, counselors, school psychologists and school administrators to be competent and caring professional educators. "The Academy promotes relationships with leaders, educators, families, communities, business partners and policy makers," said Academy Executive Director Donna Leinsing, who oversaw the project from start to finish. "Its programs are responsive to the needs of learners and learning organizations."

"Students preparing to be teachers, and educators returning to UCF to continue learning, have opportunities to learn in an environment that fosters flexible use of time, space, people, knowledge and technology," Leinsing said.