KNOXVILLE – In an effort to train more teachers for high-need fields and high-need schools, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is partnering with the Public Education Foundation of Chattanooga, Knox County Schools and Hamilton County Department of Education to create a new teacher residency program called Teach/Here.
Teach/Here will recruit college graduates and career-changers with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math. Participants will then embark on a one-year teacher residency program, similar to a medical residency program that provides “on-the-job training.” Participants will work side by side with highly skilled master teachers in the classroom four days per week. They’ll take classes on the fifth day and during the summer. Participants emerge with a master’s degree, a Tennessee teaching certificate and a full year of experience. After completing the program, the new teachers are placed in a high-need school in the system and paid a regular salary.
“This is a way for us to increase our production of math and science teachers,” said Lynn Cagle, the associate dean for professional licensure and director of the Graduate School of Education at UT Knoxville. “We’ve seen the success of this urban residency model in Boston and Chicago.”
For would-be teachers, the program offers a relatively short, convenient, paid way to earn an advanced degree and a teaching certificate.
Depending on how the program is structured, accepting additional financial aid beyond the basic stipend may require a commitment from participants to teach in certain geographic areas for a few years.
For UT Knoxville, partnering in the residency program allows the university to place teachers-in-training in Hamilton County. UT’s Graduate School of Education’s internships are in Knox County.
Teach/Here is still in the planning stage. Funding of $75,000 has been granted from the National Science Foundation for the initial planning process. The Benwood Foundation — a Chattanooga organization involved with inner-city schools — also has contributed a matching grant for the planning year, and additional funding is being sought from local donors.
The Public Education Foundation will employ a director who will lead the partners in working out the details of the program, oversee implementation of the program, and seek additional funding.
Next spring, the plan will be submitted to NSF for consideration of additional funding — up to $1.5 million over five years — to support course development, professional development for mentor teachers, costs in the mentors’ schools, part of the teacher stipends and administrative costs.
If funded and approved, Teach/Here could train up to 20 new math and science teachers each year for each of the two counties.
Training teachers through a residency program is a relatively new concept, but it already has been implemented in Boston, Chicago and metro Denver. Studies have shown that teachers trained in these programs tend to stay on the job. After three years, 90 percent of Boston residency graduates, 95 percent of Chicago residency graduates and 100 percent of Denver residency graduates are still teaching.
Cagle said work will begin this year to select schools and teacher mentors in Hamilton and Knox counties. The school districts won’t incur costs for participating in the residency program. However, the districts can choose to apply money from some of their federal grants, such as Title II, to the program, if they deem it worthwhile.
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