Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University (APSU) says that in 1975, 22 percent of all college students dreamed of becoming teachers. Forty-four years later, that number has plummeted to about 4 percent, prompting the CBS Evening News to recently label the national teacher shortage “an education crisis.”
Officials with the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) and the APSU Eriksson College of Education have kept a close eye on the growing crisis, and the two organizations recently formed an innovative partnership to train and keep teachers in this community.
“We have been looking at different teacher pipelines to get teachers in the school system, and growing our own was a natural place to go,” Millard House II, CMCSS Director of Schools, said.
Earlier this spring, the school system and APSU launched the Early Learning Teacher Residence program, which will provide 20 recent high school graduates and 20 CMCSS teacher’s aides with an accelerated, free path to become full-time school system teachers in just three years. The program specifically targets minority and first-generation college students, increasing diversity both within the school system and at Austin Peay State University.
“The idea is to put them into five of our lower socioeconomic elementary schools, in a lower grade, where they will be mentored by some of the most exemplary teachers we have,” Dr. Sean Impeartrice, CMCSS chief academic officer, said. “The whole idea of the residency is not providing them one year of student teaching but three years of learning their craft from the very best.”
These students, known as residents, primarily will be placed in kindergarten through second grade classrooms with a smaller number going to third through fifth grade, where they will help expert instructors teach and lesson plan. These “expert” teachers will receive an additional stipend for mentoring the residents.
“The residents will learn all aspects of the job, and the teachers and multi-classroom leaders will get extra hands to help out,” Impeartrice said. “It’s a three-year accelerated program, and in the fourth year, they’ll become a teacher. They’ll be hired. They’ll be guaranteed a job.”
While the students are working as residents in five local elementary schools, they’ll pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in education through a newly tailored program at Austin Peay State University.
The University and the school system will cover the students’ tuition, and the Clarksville-Montgomery County Education Association will pay for a portion of their books.
“We are fortunate to have such a great partner like CMCSS to work on common problems in the field,” Dr. Prentice Chandler, dean of the Eriksson College of Education, said. “The ELTR program addresses both teacher diversity and workforce pipeline issues, problems that impact teacher education nationally. This is what you get when an excellent school district and an excellent university get together to solve problems. We are better together.”
On Friday, May 24th, 2019 at 2:00pm, both CMCSS and APSU will host a signing day event for this first cohort in Austin Peay State University’s Morgan University Center.