Amy Smith Impact Academy headshot.

University of St. Thomas Dean Named to National Fellowship for Educator-Preparation Leaders

Dr. Amy Smith, dean of the School of Education at University of St. Thomas, was recently named an Impact Academy fellow through national nonprofit organization Deans for Impact (DFI). Smith joins a cohort of leaders chosen for their commitment to improving educator preparation.

Deans for Impact logo.

Educator-preparation programs today face complex challenges as they recruit and prepare teachers who are equipped to engage all PK-12 students in rigorous, equitable, and affirming learning experiences. More than ever, the field needs leaders who can strengthen and diversify the educator workforce. DFI aims to fill this need through its Impact Academy fellowship, which has empowered more than 130 dean-level leaders to date with skills, knowledge, and strategies to prioritize instructional quality and build more equitable systems of teaching and learning.

Smith is one of 17 leaders announced as part of the fellowship’s ninth cohort. These fellows lead programs that serve 19 U.S. states and a broad diversity of geographic contexts from coast to coast. Forty-seven percent lead institutions that serve a majority of aspiring teachers of color, and 41 percent are leaders of color themselves. Six are Minority-Serving Institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Predominantly Black Institutions, and a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Collectively, 48 percent of the aspiring teachers these institutions annually serve identify as people of color.

“I’m thrilled to be working with a group of education leaders from around the country who are seeking to ensure every child has a well-prepared teacher. Diversifying the teaching workforce remains a core part of the School of Education’s mission, as we seek to prepare teachers who can support all learners in the classroom,” Smith said. “I’m honored to learn from professionals from around the country as we strive for excellence in our teacher preparation at St. Thomas.”

School of Education Dean Amy Smith. (Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas)

Fellows will participate in monthly learning sessions, receive one-on-one coaching from seasoned leaders, and engage in peer consultancies to address field-facing challenges in real time. They will hone their ability to engage faculty, staff, communities, and PK-12 partners in a shared vision for transformative change, grounded in a deep scientific understanding about how students learn.

“All students, and particularly students of color and students from underserved communities, deserve access to teachers who are well prepared to engage them in rigorous and affirming learning experiences from day one,” said Valerie Sakimura, executive director of DFI. “We are thrilled to welcome a new cohort of leaders to Impact Academy who are committed to making that a reality, by doubling down on the essential role they play in making pathways into teaching more accessible, practice-based, and focused on evidence-based instruction.”