AmeriCorps Awards Grant for TEACH/Here, a UT Partnership Program

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KNOXVILLE — TEACH/Here, an innovative teacher residency initiative through which the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is helping to prepare highly skilled math and science teachers for hard-to-fill positions in Knox and Hamilton county schools, has received a $154,000 grant to support training and stipends for participants.

The grant is from AmeriCorps, through Volunteer Tennessee.

TEACH/Here operates through a partnership between the UT Knoxville, Knox and Hamilton county school, and the Public Education Foundation of Chattanooga.

“This partnership with AmeriCorps is a natural one,” said Susan Benner, head of UT Knoxville’s Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education. “Teaching is an important community service, and we are pleased to see this support for our student residents in both Hamilton and Knox county schools.”

TEACH/Here Director Cheri Dedmon said graduates of TEACH/Here will provide outstanding math and science instruction to students in the two counties, especially in disadvantaged communities.

“Their commitment fits well with the national service mission of AmeriCorps, and it is a huge benefit to us that AmeriCorps has agreed to help with funding,” she said.

The resident teachers-in-training are recent college graduates or mid-career professionals who specialized in math- or science-related fields and have become interested in teaching. Similar to a medical residency program that provides “on-the-job training” for doctors, residents will work in a mentoring relationship with a master teacher for one year, where they will work side-by-side with the master teacher in the classroom four days per week. On the fifth day, they will take classes at UT Knoxville to earn both a master’s degree and a teaching certificate by the end of the year.

The resident teachers will log at least 1,700 volunteer hours in schools assisting their mentor teachers and will complete a service learning project by the end of their training. Resident teachers are not salaried, but receive a small living stipend as part of their TEACH/Here service.

“The need to attract and recruit well-prepared, dedicated and qualified individuals, particularly in critical-needs subject areas, is a dilemma that many school systems confront each school year. Knox County is committed and focused on exploring all avenues to bring the best and brightest to our classroom,” said Kathy D. Sims, executive director of human resources for Knox County Schools. “Special thanks to AmeriCorps for their support of the TeachHere initiative, which is an excellent strategy to recruit math and science teachers for our state and system. These candidates are the best of the best, and I am excited that Knox County Schools have been provided the opportunity to participate in the program.”

Connie Atkins, director of human resources for Hamilton County Schools, agreed: “These teachers are sorely needed. I look forward to the day when I can place an excellent, well-prepared teacher in every math and science class in this school district, and TEACH/Here and AmeriCorps will help make that goal a reality.”

Now in its first year of operation, TEACH/Here has recently placed 18 resident teachers to work alongside highly successful and experienced mentor teachers in four schools. Eight residents are working in Central High School, Fulton High School and Gresham Middle School in Knoxville, and 10 residents are working in Tyner Academy and Tyner Middle Academy in Chattanooga.

Next fall, these residents will take classroom positions in Knox and Hamilton counties, where they have agreed to work for at least four more years to repay the cost of their training and education.

For more information on TEACH/Here, visit http://www.TeachHere.org. For more on AmeriCorps in Tennessee, visit http://www.volunteertennessee.net/.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely UT Knoxville (865-974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu)

Melissa Copelan, Knox County Schools (865-594-1905, copelanm@k12tn.net)

Frances Haman-Prewitt, Public Education Foundation (423-648-4442, Fhaman-prewitt@pefchattanooga.org)

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