Decatur Teacher Education Pipeline

Change lives and change your life when you become a teacher in an urban school.






The Decatur Teacher Education Pipeline works to redesign and fundamentally transform how preservice teachers enter urban schools so that they are well prepared for the exciting challenges ahead. DTEP’s focus is to recruit and prepare teachers for the high-need area of Special Education in Decatur Public Schools.


Our Mission:

The Decatur Teacher Education Pipeline is grounded in social justice and works to cultivate and sustain innovative, resilient, and effective educators for urban schools and their communities.


What does it mean to be an urban teacher? Teaching in an urban school is an exciting calling that requires a special kind of preparation. Teachers in urban schools need to understand not only the curriculum and teaching methods, but also must be ready to meet the needs of students from a range of cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Urban teaching is rewarding and the Decatur Teacher Education Pipeline (DTEP) is dedicated to preparing Illinois State University students for careers as urban teachers.

The Decatur Teacher Education Pipeline Program

The Pipeline has carefully constructed and refined a model of preservice professional development for urban teachers that demonstrates the value of community-based partnerships to enhance shared educational goals.


Core Components


Redesigned University Courses

In partnership with ISU professors, the Pipeline has supported the fundamental redesigning of courses to contain an urban component and embedded urban clinical experiences. In addition, a specialized sequence of courses for special education teachers has been created through a program called INFUSE (Innovative Network of Urban Special Educators). In these redesigned courses, students will gain insight into the intricacies of urban students, families, schools, and the roles that everyone plays in supporting learning for children with disabilities.



Many of the redesigned courses have a clinical component where ISU faculty members bring their students to Decatur for a full-day immersion experience in Decatur Public Schools (DPS) and the community. Clinical visits happen in both the Fall and Spring semesters and are dispersed throughout schools in the Decatur Public School District. Community partners, ISU Faculty, and DTEP Staff work together to select dates and times that work within both the District and ISU academic and testing calendars to coordinate engaging clinical experiences.


STEP-UP Summer Fellowship

An intensive four-week summer immersion fellowship is open to rising juniors and seniors. The program includes co-teaching in the DPS summer school and a service-learning internship with a community-based organization. Fellows attend professional development, reflective seminars, and live with a host family in Decatur for a full, immersive experience.


Student Teaching in Decatur Public School District 61

DTEP works with the Macon-Piatt field-based program to provide enhanced opportunities for student teachers in Decatur. The Decatur Teacher Education Pipeline provides additional evening seminars that expand student teachers’ knowledge on relevant topics and promotes community involvement as a part of the program.



Students get additional support when they take teaching positions in Decatur. First and second year teachers are assigned an experienced mentor based on consultation with school-based leadership. The mentor and mentee pair attend professional development throughout the academic year on various topics and each receives technology and financial supports.


For more information contact Director Shannon Mittleman:

Illinois State University

(217) 412-8454

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