Oct. 21, 2003
Assisting Area Educators
GW Students Helping Local Students While Teaching at
A series of partnerships between Washington area schools and GWs
Graduate School of Education and Human Development is lending critical
support to some of the communitys neediest schools. Students in
the Department of Teacher Preparation and Special Education are interning
as substitute and even full-time teachers at several understaffed area
schools in exchange for tuition remission benefits and the opportunity
to gain real-life experience.
Nineteen programs comprise the Department of Teacher Preparation and Special
Education, producing about 150 teachers each year for local schools that
have suffered from a shortage of trained educators. Seventy-five percent
of these newly accredited educators specialize in the five subjects most
consistently understaffed in Americas schools: mathematics, science,
English as a second language, special education and Spanish.
We dont have an undergraduate program so we can concentrate
all our resources on training graduate students, said Jay Shotel,
professor of special education, chair of the department and initiator
of the Teachers 2000 Millennium Fellows and Fairfax Transition to Teaching
programs. The large majority of our grad students have liberal arts
and sciences degrees. The No Child Left Behind Act states
a highly qualified teacher has to have a bachelors degree and our
students clearly belong in that category. The average age of our graduate
students is 29.
The longest partnership in GSEHD, the Fairfax Transition to Teaching (FTT)
program, is one of the most popular fellowships at the school. Shotel
developed the FTT in 1985 following discussions with Fairfax officials
about the countys shortage of qualified substitute teachers. The
program allows up to 23 GW students to serve as substitutes in the Fairfax
County Public School System while they pursue their graduate studies.
Its a really outstanding program, said Terri Czarniak,
coordinator for recruitment in human resources and university partnerships
at Fairfax County Public Schools.
Its very well respected and highly sought after. We hire a
very high number of the graduates from the program because we already
know what they are capable of; it gives us the opportunity to see how
they perform in the classroom. It is also a wonderful program for us because
budget constraints are also a major concern.
Since its inception, roughly 350 students have graduated from the FTT
program, becoming something of an institution in Fairfax, where it is
active in 23 of the systems 24 high schools. Recognition of the
FTTs achievements also has developed beyond the local level. The
US Department of Education even included a commendation of the FTT program
in the Second Annual Report on Teacher Quality to Congress
submitted by Secretary of Education Rod Paige this summer. The commendation
described it as a program that produced highly qualified teachers,
the only university-based program to be so recognized said Anita
Scovanner Ramsey, the FTT project coordinator.
Our students dont just work as substitutes; they tutor, update
curriculum, write lesson plans, teach math and computer labs, she
said. One of the things we try to foster is that they become leaders
in their schools. More than half of our alumni still work in Fairfax County.
Some of them have gone on to become department heads, assistant principals
and principals. Our students also have a 100 percent offer rate of hiring
for Fairfax County schools.
The FTT allows participating fellows to complete their licensure requirements
through a one-year internship and course sequence, though earning a masters
of education degree requires further coursework. Twenty-three fellows
a year are assigned a monthly stipend for 10 months and tuition benefits
for 18 credits. They also are eligible for full-time student health benefits
and deferred loans.
The largest fellows program in GSEHD is the Teachers 2000 Millennium Fellowship.
A partnership with the Montgomery County Public School System (MCPS) founded
in 1996 by Shotel in collaboration with Karoline Rohr of Montgomery County.
Teachers 2000 is active in 18 of the 25 high schools and 21 out of 36
middle schools in MCPS and has 142 alumni.
Its a wonderful program, said Elizabeth Arons, associate
superintendent for human resources in Montgomery County. There are
only between two to 30 students a year; its not very big, but its
very effective. The students are very intelligent, usually bilingual and
trained to teach in the critical needs areas, which we always need.
The Teachers 2000 program is composed of two similar fellowships
the Millennium Fellows and the GW Teaching Corps. Both allow students
to complete the requirements for the licensure in 18 months.
The Millennium Fellowship spans two years; in the first year fellows have
their pre-service period beginning in July with two University
courses and a school system workshop. Beginning that September students
are hired by MCPS as substitute teachers until June when, for their second
summer, participants take two more courses and a variety of special training
Assuming all requirements of the program have been met and budgetary and
performance concerns notwithstanding, Teachers 2000 fellows may receive
a promotion in the second semester of their fellow year to a full salary
and benefits package.
One of the newest and best-received programs at GSEHD is the Urban Initiative
(UI) partnership. Originally part of the DC Spirit program that placed
interns in schools across the city, the UI is a 42-credit hour, two-year
partnership developed with the Washington, DC Public Schools (DCPS). Initiated
in 1997 by Lynda Tredway, a former GW employee, UI allows interns to teach
literacy and special education at Cardozo Senior High School while they
continue their graduate work.
Participating first-time students may choose between two routes for licensure.
The first option offers single certification for a masters degree
in transition special education. The second option provides masters
of education certification in a secondary education content area, with
a dual endorsement in transition special education.
One of the things that is special about Urban Initiative is interns
are able to get a teachers license in two different areas,
said Kathleen Tindle, project director for UI. Its unique
to have that at a secondary level and it can be a great benefit to teachers
in special education. In order for special education students to take
a course it must be taught by a special education teacher, but most special
education teachers arent licensed to teach regular subjects. So
if a special education student takes a science class taught by a special
education teacher they probably will not get credit for it. Having a teacher
with two licenses means
these kids have a chance to get a real
high school diploma.
Urban Initiative has been going well since its inception,
said Reggie Ballard, principal of Cardozo Senior High School. The
interns involved with this program have no illusions as to what teaching
is all about. When they begin teaching they already know how to act, how
students react. It is a true, authentic program. They are able to pass
any assessment that is placed in front of them. After completing this
program they are certified, bona fide teachers. Ive been more than
happy with this program.
It takes a special kind of person to do Urban Initiative and its
not for everyone. Our interview process really helps us identify who will
be strong urban educators, said Anna Dixon, research associate at
the UI program and one of the original members in the first cohort. We
focus on the urban population, particularly the low-level, ninth-grade
and literacy programs; students who have trouble reading up to their grade
level. Literacy is a huge part of our program.
In addition, there are options for experienced and new teachers. Students
new to teaching can work full-time at Cardozo, with a small stipend for
each month of their 10-month service period. In the internship stage students
work in a literacy program for struggling students in ninth grade, supervised
by a literacy coordinator and teach with a Cardozo mentor instructor.
Students who already teach in DCPS can intern at their individual school
sites while supported by a University supervisor. Currently about 90 percent
of the 34 graduates of the UI program are still teaching in Washington.
The only problem I have with this program is its too small,
said Ballard. Instead of only five or six each semester, I would
like to triple the number of interns. I wish we could expand to other
schools and high schools in the city. It could really help with the shortage
of teachers we have here in Washington.
The success of these programs has helped GSEHD place in the top 20 percent
in the US News and World Report annual survey of the top graduate
schools in education for the last eight consecutive years, ranking at
No. 19 overall in the April 2003 survey and No. 1 for the Washington,
DC, metropolitan area.
The local schools know we attract the best and brightest students
and produce the most committed and well prepared of educators, said
Shotel. These are the two essential elements in why these partnerships
work because of our professional status within the field and because
we are one of the highest-rated graduate schools teaching schools
in the country.
He concludes There is a reason these schools are willing to work
with us. The bottom line is we produce a quality product.
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