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October 24, 2018

NIET Pays Tribute to the Legacy of Texas Tech University College of Education Dean Dr. Scott Ridley

Dr. Scott Ridley—an exemplary educator, leader, and above all else—true friend to the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET)—passed away on October 22, 2018. Dr. Ridley was more than a partner: He was a visionary with the courage and persistence to revolutionize the way educators are prepared to be successful in the classroom.

Dr. Ridley was a dynamic dean of education who believed that the best means for equipping teacher candidates was strengthening connections between teacher preparation faculty and their school communities. This meant talking to districts, particularly those that served high-need student populations, to assess their needs, tailor instruction to fit them, and encourage the most qualified candidates to teach in them.

On behalf of the Texas Tech College of Education, Ridley (right) accepts a 2014 NIET Award of Distinction from NIET Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken.

At Arizona State University, Dr. Ridley put his philosophies into action when he forged a partnership with the Osborn School District —where he worked before entering academia. The program in the district involved embedded coursework, internship and student teaching at the school sites. The Professional Development School, now known as iTeachAZ, is now 21 years strong and is respected as one of the most forward-thinking teacher preparation programs in the country.

Inside an Osborn School District (AZ) classroom.

Dr. Ridley carried his principles with him to Texas Tech University, where he continued his groundbreaking work tying the College of Education’s curriculum to the needs of local communities. He embedded faculty in Houston, Dallas and other locations of TTU's network partner schools. Those faculty members worked hand-in-hand with teacher candidates and school districts to ensure that their goals were aligned. Many have said that TTU's teacher candidates graduate with the proficiency of a second-year teacher, and TTU candidates themselves have attested to their thorough preparedness for the expectations of the job.

Grand Prairie Independent School District (TX) Assistant Principal and Texas Tech student Corey Atkins (right) works with a colleague. 

In 2012, NIET was pleased to partner with Dr. Ridley and TTU on a federal SEED grant to build the capacity of TTU's teacher candidates and work with network districts on the implementation of educator effectiveness best practices. The partnership blossomed into other innovative initiatives, including Grow Your Own—an intensive, yearlong student teaching program that allows graduates with an associate degree to earn a bachelor's within a year.

Ridley at NIET's 2015 annual conference, along with NIET Co-President and Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Patrice Pujol and Somerset Independent School District (TX) Superintendent Dr. Saul Hinojosa.

Every avenue Dr. Ridley pursued was focused on improving the pipeline of teacher talent so that students had sustained opportunities to maximize their potential. His legacy will live on in the success of the innovations he pioneered and in the countless lives he touched.

Read Lowell Milken's commentary in The 74.


Related reading highlighting key NIET/TTU higher ed partnerships:

LIFTing Up High-Need Schools Through Higher Ed Partnerships (PDF)

Grow Your Own (PDF)