Stillman College, Shelton State transfer agreement focused on teacher education

A white man and black man shake hands in a room

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Stillman College and Shelton State Community College are using a student transfer agreement to help address the deficit of certified teachers in the State of Alabama.

Representatives from both institutions signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday that provides a seamless pathway for Shelton students to transfer to Stillman, while providing Shelton students consistent academic advising and support from Stillman faculty and staff.

While the transfer agreement isn’t unique its structure, how it will be leveraged is distinctive and potentially fruitful for the Tuscaloosa area and the state of Alabama. More than 3,000 teachers in Alabama retired from Alabama public schools in 2020, and the state is struggling to close that gap. Stillman College Executive Vice President Derrick C. Gilmore said the agreement with Shelton will strengthen the pipeline to teacher certification through a hands-on approach to recruiting Shelton students to Stillman’s School of Education.

“By preparing students at Shelton for the requirements for teacher education and Stillman, while also engaging them and prompting an interest in this career pathway, we’re driving to both immediate and future needs in the state of Alabama,” Gilmore said. “We’re also addressing the critical lack of Black male teachers in K-12 schools.”

About 7% of teachers in the U.S. are Black, according to Edutopia. And roughly 2% of public school teachers in the United States are Black males, according the Washington Post.

Shelton State and Stillman’s transfer agreement aligns closely with one of the key goals of Stillman’s Black Male Initiative, which aims to improve teacher education and strengthen the pipeline for Black males to become teachers by providing academic supports and stipends to Black male students who major in teacher education.

“This agreement puts [Stillman] in a unique profile within the sphere of HBCUs, with both a two-year and four-year institution looking to address this issue,” Gilmore said.

While the advising process for transfer students will be major-specific, it will not be “major-binding.” Students will have the option of changing majors and receiving advising for their new major. Stillman advisors will visit Shelton’s campus on widely advertised dates and times and will invite Shelton students and their families to visit Stillman’s campus for additional advisement, information, support and engagement.

“A student will come to Shelton knowing, ‘I’m going to land [at Stillman}. I know where I’m going, and I know why I’m here,’” said Brad Newman, president of Shelton State Community College.

“[Shelton] is making sure that all of our capacity is leveraged toward being a good supplier to Stillman and creating a strong team and getting the results that are needed for this region. We’re honored to be a part of this agreement.”

Shelton students must have a cumulative 2.0 GPA and a grade of “C” or better in all transfer courses. Stillman College guarantees admissions with up to 64 transferable credits. Students participating in the agreement will have their application fee waived.

Additionally, the agreement allows for “reverse transfer credits” for students who transferred to Stillman before earning their associate degree. This articulation agreement will allow students to count credit hours earned at Stillman toward their associate degree, so long as they are in good academic standing at both institutions.