Teacher Residency Program

Southeastern Connecticut School Districts Seek to Develop a Diverse Teacher Workforce
TRP Logo

LEARN is partnering with the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) to bring their Teacher Residency Program (TRP) to southeastern Connecticut. Through this partnership, school districts are taking important steps to addressing a critical shortage of teachers of color.

LEARN, the Regional Educational Service Center (RESC) for the southeastern Connecticut, strives to provide equitable opportunities to students, families, and educators. The TRP offers an alternate route to certification aimed at eliminating barriers that have led to a significant shortage of teachers of color throughout the state. LEARN is investing $45,000 to launch and coordinate the TRP in southeastern Connecticut, partnering with member public school districts to provide new career opportunities.

Several school districts have already agreed to host residents including East Lyme, Groton, Ledyard, Norwich, Waterford, and LEARN. LEARN and the other participating RESCs across the state are still actively recruiting more districts for their first cohort, which is scheduled to begin coursework this summer.

The Teacher Residency Program is open to applicants who have earned a bachelor’s degree and demonstrate a strong commitment to children. It is currently limited to elementary school teaching candidates, but may expand to other age groups and content areas over the next few years.

“LEARN is very proud to bring the Teacher Residency Program into the region and support the equity efforts of our member school districts,” said Dr. Ryan Donlon, LEARN’s Associate Executive Director. “All students benefit when there is a diverse teaching force.”

Data demonstrates that Connecticut has a significant gap between the number of students of color and teachers of color. According to Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) data, almost 44 percent of the state’s public school students are of color. However, only 8.4 percent of teachers are of color. The TRP program will support the CSDE’s goal of 1,000 new teachers of color by 2021.

Donlon described the problem as not just a lack of diverse candidates, but a need to address the barriers that prevent excellent potential teachers from seeking certification. 

The TRP model removes financial burdens by paying residents during their year of working and learning alongside a mentor teacher. These mentor teachers provide on-the-job training and support to residents who must complete coursework in the summer and evening classes during the school year. The coursework, which Donlon called highly practical, is designed to lead candidates to success as teachers.  Upon successfully completing the program as well as passing certification exams, participants will be eligible for full-time teaching positions in the participating school districts. Once teachers are hired by their host school districts, the program will continue to provide support and guidance throughout the first year of their new careers.

The Teacher Residency Program was created by CREC, the RESC that serves the north central region of the state, including Hartford and its suburbs. CREC’s first cohorts produced 26 new teachers of color. Now, fellow RESCs are bringing the program to their respective regions to partner in this mission.

“We’re seeking to create a new generation of teachers. This new generation will give students of color an opportunity to see themselves in their teachers and an opportunity for all to recognize the value in diversity in education,” said Marlene Megos, Director of CREC’s Teacher Residency Program.

Dr. Kristen Stringfellow, superintendent of Norwich Public Schools said, “I am thrilled to partner with CREC/LEARN in this initiative aimed at recruiting teachers of color from the Norwich community to become Norwich Public Schools teachers. We are using Alliance funds to support this initiative and we have the endorsement of the Norwich Board of Education.”

Groton Public Schools views this partnership in alignment with their existing commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Susan Austin, Superintendent of Groton Public Schools, reports on the district’s work with diversity, equity, and inclusion. “An integral component of Groton Public Schools’ mission is to cultivate an environment of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness,” Austin said. “As a response, we strive to foster culturally responsive teaching and learning practices to ensure all groups feel valued, actively engaged, and empowered.”

Jemal Davis, Assistant Principal of Groton Middle School, leads the district’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee with over 100 members that includes workgroups examining Data, Professional Learning, and Hiring Practices. “Along with the Human Resources Department, we are reviewing our Diversity Hiring Plan, and looking to find additional high quality education candidates that mirror our community,” Davis said. Groton’s Board of Education embraces this plan, which is embedded in its goals, “In a Richness of Cultures and With a Respect for all.”

In addition to increasing diversity, participating school districts will foster talent and nurture teachers from within their own ranks. Donlon said that many of the candidates are already actively working within school systems and across local communities as paraprofessionals, athletics coaches, and volunteers. The TRP offers them the chance to launch their teaching careers, to the benefit of the residents and school districts alike.

“LEARN wants to bring a program to the southeastern Connecticut that helps candidates overcome obstacles and results in a more diverse and highly qualified teacher workforce,” Donlon said. “This is an opportunity to benefit all children in southeastern Connecticut by launching great careers in teaching for people who already possess a strong commitment to our children and our communities.”

The application period for residents will open on January 4. Interested applicants can visit the program website for more information: www.crec.org/c/trp

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