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Columbia Spectator Staff

With a $9.75 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Teachers College will launch a program through which newly-recruited students will assist teachers in high-needs public schools throughout New York City. The program, Teaching Residents at Teachers College (TR@TC), is in its initial stages, and neither the participating students nor the participating public schools have been selected. A six-person committee was formed to work out those details and others, according to Teachers College Associate Dean of Teacher Education A. Lin Goodwin, who will serve as principal investigator and project director for the grant. "All planning, hiring, and curriculum development has just begun, but as you can imagine, at breakneck speed," Goodwin said. The first year of the four-year program will involve recruiting residents and developing curricula tailored to educators in high-needs urban schools. The curricula, Goodwin said, will "prepare teaching residents to address the intersecting, complex, multiple needs presented by students in high-needs schools, not in isolation but in tandem, simultaneously." The family advocates for School Districts 3 and 5—Rita Knight and DJ Sheppard for District 3 (Upper West Side) and Denise Gordon for District 5 (West Harlem)—did not return calls for comment on how the new program might impact local schools. The grant comes after TC has faced criticism for sending its student teachers to more affluent schools across the city. TR@TC will recruit a diverse pool through a "rigorous, two-step application process," Goodwin said, particularly people like retired Peace Corps volunteers, military veterans, and mid-life career changers who demonstrate high maturity and have experience working with people from varied backgrounds and with varied needs. The program aims to place 20 residents in New York City public schools by September 2010, 40 residents the following year, and 60 for each of the final two years of funding, for a total of 180. These student teachers will receive scholarships to TC as well as $22,500 in annual stipends and health insurance, and will be expected to teach in a high-needs school, preferably in NYC, for at least three years after the program ends. During their first two years, each will be paired with an "induction mentor." This is not the first effort TC has made to collaborate with high-needs schools. Twenty-one schools in four of the five New York City boroughs are led by principals who are Cahn Fellows, a TC program. Goodwin said she hopes the impact of this new program will be "increasing the recruitment and retention of high quality and experienced teachers in high-needs schools, broadening the knowledge base for research and practice in urban classrooms, enhancing professional development opportunities for school teachers and leaders in the partner schools, and strengthening and redefining school-university-community partnerships." TC is one of 28 colleges receiving shares of a $43 million pool of federal Teacher Quality Partnership grants. A second round of grants is expected to be announced early next year.

Teachers College