The University's Teaching and Leadership Center, as part of a six-year collaborative partnership among FAU, the Broward County Public Schools, Broward Community College, Nova Southeastern University and Barry University, received a 2006 Innovations in American Government Award. The school district's Urban Academies program was selected for the honor because it offers a comprehensive solution to the district’s teacher shortage. The program is one of only seven in the nation to receive the award and the only educational program to be honored.
The Teaching and Leadership Center was formed in 2000 as a partnership among FAU's College of Education, Broward Community College and the School Board of Broward County in an effort to meet the challenge of attracting, developing and retaining qualified, competent educators for Broward Public Schools. The center is located on the Davie campus.
The Urban Academies’ “Grow Your Own Teachers” program involves people and institutions at every level of public education in Broward County. High school students interested in teaching careers go through a special curriculum and field training that earn them college credits and prepare them for college-level training; university undergraduates receive rigorous course and classroom training in education; practicing teachers go through professional development and preparation for mentoring their incoming junior colleagues.
The Urban Academies program has already placed 360 teachers in hard-to-staff schools, and 91% of these teachers have remained in their positions for more than three years compared to a national average of 67%. During the 2005-06 school year, 271 students were enrolled in the training program. That is an increase of more than 400% over the first year the program was in existence (2000). One hundred percent of students enrolled in the program have gone on to attend college.
The Innovations in American Government Award Program, founded in 1986, is sponsored by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University 's John F. Kennedy School of Government. The award is administered in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government and honors city, county, state, tribal and federal government initiatives that are truly creative, measurably effective, meet a significant need and have the potential to be transferred to other jurisdictions. The 2006 award winners were selected from an initial pool of 1,000 applicants. The award includes a $100,000 prize.