STORRS, CT — Instructors at the University of Connecticut's Neag School of Education are helping Hartford-area high school students prepare for future teaching careers through a unique partnership with Hartford Public Schools.
The Neag School is spearheading a consortium of teacher education institutions that are providing expertise and support to Hartford as it prepares to open a new Teacher Preparatory Academy at Bulkeley High School in late August. Parents, students and staff celebrated the school's opening with a special transition ceremony Friday, Aug. 14.
The academy's curriculum is modeled after Neag's nationally-acclaimed teacher preparation program. The Neag School of Education is one of the top 25 education schools in the country and the number one public graduate school of education on the East Coast.
Hartford's Teacher Preparatory Academy will eventually serve about 200 students in grades 11 and 12 from Greater Hartford. The students must participate in a competitive application process, have good grades and be interested in future careers in education. The new school is the latest option offered to regional students as part of the Hartford school system's All Choice Initiative.
The academy is believed to be the state's first dedicated teaching academy focused on recruiting, supporting and preparing talented high school students to pursue careers in education.
At a time of critical teacher shortages, the academy hopes to increase the pool of highly qualified candidates in order to fill critical content vacancies, increase the diversity of applicants and encourage students to return to careers as Hartford educators.
"When school administrators approached us to help with the design of the new academy, we jumped at the chance," says Neag School Associate Dean Marijke Kehrhahn, the school's director of teacher education. "Our hope is that academy students will become active members in our vibrant professional learning community and that some of them will go on to the next level by choosing to come to UConn and enrolling in our teacher preparation program."
The Neag School has had a longstanding partnership with Bulkeley High over the years. As part of that partnership, UConn has been deeply involved in Bulkeley's efforts to prepare students for college, including working with GEAR-UP (a federal grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education) and College for Every Student programs. Over the years, UConn has, in return, sent hundreds of its education students to Bulkeley to experience teaching and learning in an urban high school.
René S. Roselle, an assistant clinical professor from the Neag School of Education, is serving as an on-site consultant and professional development coordinator for the new academy. An expert in working with professional development schools and pre-service teachers, Roselle has a particular interest in training teachers for urban settings.
"In developing this very important academy, the leadership team was diligent in keeping Bulkeley High School students at the center of our decision-making process," Roselle said. "With a talented teaching faculty, the partnership of the Neag School of Education, strong administrative support and the collaboration of other local universities, a wealth of opportunities and support will be available to Academy students as they refine their skills and abilities related to careers in education."
Hartford area students enrolled in the new academy will be exposed to various learning and teaching styles, classroom management techniques and lesson plan development. Students will be able to observe, shadow and intern in a variety of settings tailored to their interests. Academically, students will be required to take relevant coursework, complete a professional portfolio, engage in action inquiry or a service learning project and become familiar with the latest research on educational issues and topics.
Other higher education institutions that have a supporting role in the new academy include: Eastern Connecticut State University, the University of Hartford, Saint Joseph College and Capital Community College. Some of the benefits of the higher education partnership include dual credit courses for academy students to earn college credit as well as high school credit; a university guest speaker series and on-site assistance with the college admissions process.
The academy will provide field trips to colleges and universities who offer programs in education, outreach to elementary schools through internships and mentoring programs and offer joint seminars with college-level students majoring in education.
The administrators of the Teachers Preparatory Academy believe their academic institution will allow Hartford area students to begin building a solid foundation for a future career in education and place them at the forefront of the future education workforce moving forward.
|Rene Roselle, Ph.D., Assistant Clinical Professor
Neag School of Education, UConn
|Kerry Swistro, Theme Coach
Teacher Prep Academy/Bulkeley High School