Wednesday April 6, 2011
TEACH/Here in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has recently received funding from Tennessee’s Race to the Top program to start a new division of their residency that addresses an identified district need for teachers in fourth through eighth grade math. The grant was written as state test scores were released and eighth grade math achievement (one of the Race to the Top indicators for the state) was found lacking. TEACH/Here Director Cheri Dedmon and her team designed a program to target math achievement in the four grades leading up to this indicator.
Dedmon likens the new structure of TEACH/Here to a tree with two branches. One branch of the program, which will have its second cohort this fall, is made up of seventh through twelfth grade STEM teachers. The second branch will be dedicated to fourth through eighth grade math. This means that the program must recruit a whole different group of residents, which Program Manager Lindsey Frost is prepared to do. “In a sense it’s easy,” Frost said. “The type of person who wants to teach fourth grade math is not the same kind of person who wants to teach AP Chemistry to twelfth graders.”
With this new branch to their program, TEACH/Here gains a second university partner in Tennessee Tech. This is nothing new for Dedmon, though, who already navigates relationships with two separate districts in Chattanooga and Knoxville. The key to working with several partners, Dedmon says, is to not compare them. Dedmon respects the distinct contexts within each district, and she also understands that she needs to have a give-and-take relationship with all of her partners. Collaboration has been key for TEACH/Here in their first year. “Being able to identify partnerships and resources both in people and organizations has been critical,” Dedmon said.
This spring, Frost teamed up with Andrew Rodriguez of the Boston Teacher Residency to recruit residents at Columbia University’s Not-for-Profit and Public Service Career Fair. Together, Frost and Rodriguez (both Columbia alumni) were able to message to prospective residents that they would be part of a growing national movement of urban teacher residencies. Frost found the joint recruiting event to be very rewarding - as a Columbia graduate, a member of the UTRU network, and a learner.
As the first cohort of TEACH/Here residents complete their residency in the coming months, Dedmon and Frost express their satisfaction with the group. “I am remarkably impressed by how willing they are to be change makers in their schools,” Frost said. “We really need those people in Hamilton County and Knox County.”
As Dedmon looks toward the coming year, she is focused on finalizing their second cohort of residents and ensuring the highest of quality for both of their programs. “My challenge is to have both of these programs on this tree as branches, aligned and functioning at the same level of quality.”
We wish them the best of luck and hope that they continue their spirit of collaboration with internal and external partners over the coming years.
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