ST. CLOUD - St. Cloud State University and several area school districts are working together to create a collaborative center for partnership.

The idea came from the Teacher Preparation Initiative, comprised of six partner school districts and St. Cloud State University.

The program started in 2009 and has been funded through a 10-year $4.5 million grant by the Bush Foundation. The focus of the program is to change the manner in which college students are preparing to enter the field of education and to give them support in the first three years of teaching.

The ROCORI, Holdingford, Monticello, Sartell-St. Stephen, Sauk Rapids-Rice and St. Cloud Area districts are involved in the initiative.

Rebecca Krystyniak is the director of the initiative, she says students interested in teaching in the local districts or at SCSU benefit from more opportunities and guidance. She says the initiative also works to recruit teachers into high-need areas.

"That would be your special education, your STEM fields, early language learners, men in the early grades and also teachers of color."

Krystyniak says St. Cloud State and the districts involved didn't want to stop collaborating when the grant ends. The idea came to create a partnership center when all districts saw the value of teachers working together with the University and across districts.

"This would be creating a regional approach to education, where we would be looking at how all six districts and the University would be sharing resources," Krystyniak says.

The process is moving forward with the goal of hiring a center director before the end of the summer and starting work at the center within the next school year. The center will be based at St. Cloud State and has been approved by the University.