The Lastinger Center for Learning is the brainchild of University of Florida Alumni Allen and Delores Lastinger. They saw the potential to wed cutting edge academic research and academic practice to improve education and accelerate learning. Their vision also aligned with a larger effort by the University of Florida’s College of Education to generate and field innovations to improve educational outcomes in Florida and beyond.
The Lastinger Center was launched in 2002 with Dr. Donald Pemberton in the position of Director. Initially, the organization had a small staff, but one that effectively leveraged the intellectual resources of the University of Florida to provide outsized value to individual schools and school districts by improving teacher effectiveness through an innovative job-embedded approach.
Today, the Lastinger Center’s innovations are used in every community in the state and have recently expanded nationally and globally. The remarkable scope of the Lastinger Center’s work and the impact of these collective efforts have drawn state, national, and international recognition and investment.
From a modest start-up in 2002, the Lastinger Center has consistently developed powerful programs and initiatives that transform teaching, learning, and child well-being. Simply put, few, if any, educational incubation centers could claim such a powerful portfolio of innovations, which have included:
- Creating Algebra Nation and Math Nation and scaling these innovations to every school district in Florida, extending these programs to more than 1,000,000 students and 15,000 teachers.
- Designing and implementing Early Learning Florida, a hybrid/blended online/onsite professional learning system for Florida’s 55,000 early learning educators.
- Winning two highly-competitive US Department of Education Investing in Innovation (I3) grants – for promising, scalable innovations in early learning, master teachers, and STEM education.
- Developing the Teacher Leadership for School Improvement graduate program in partnership with the College of Education’s School of Teaching and Learning. Re- conceptualizing graduate education as job-embedded, practice-centered, and inquiry- focused, this graduate program went on to win national acclaim when it was selected as the top program in the country by the Association of Teacher Educators.
- Expanding the Center’s professional development model to Abu Dhabi – the first international proof-point for the Center to show impact on educational systems in different cultures and contexts.
- Developing the University of Florida Coaching Academy, creating customized high impact coaching programs including: instructional coaching, leadership coaching, equity coaching, early learning technical assistance coaching, communities of practice coaching, literacy and STEM coaching and technology integration coaching.
- Creating a strong research and development capacity that enabled the Lastinger Center to partner with external entities to produce landmark initiatives that include: the Ready Schools movement that grew the Center’s work in Florida and to four other states.