Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy says that “education has risen to the top of the list as a way to change communities,” and with that in mind, she’s leading AU’s School of Education down paths to that change. “Our education students are heeding a call to action. To them, education is a way to fight racial, health, and economic injustices,” the dean says.
Through a recently announced partnership with Urban Teachers, a national teacher residency program, AU’s School of Education will offer the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) to prospective teachers in the Urban Teachers program. Currently, the Urban Teachers Program prepares hundreds of aspiring teachers in Baltimore, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. This new partnership, which begins in summer 2022, will provide national visibility for the growing AU School of Education, which is in its third year as an independent school at AU.
In addition to a tailored curriculum, students in Urban Teachers receive extensive coaching during their early years of teaching to prepare them for their roles. Through a shared commitment to developing highly effective teachers, AU and Urban Teachers will provide new teachers skills in antiracist pedagogy, subject matter instruction, classroom management, and community engagement. And, the emphasis on coaching in the classroom provides the necessary support for new teachers’ success.
“This is certainly an incredible time for both of our institutions and especially for future teachers who not only want to learn how to teach but want to become change agents in their school community,” says Dean Holcomb-McCoy. “Urban Teachers supplies new, diverse, well-trained teachers for urban school districts, all of which drastically need new teachers given the teacher shortages nationwide.”
According to the dean, the partnership not only gives AU students access to the Urban Teachers Program after they complete undergraduate degrees, but also benefits educators worldwide through new research and evaluation on effective pedagogy and learning in urban settings post-COVID.
Another way SOE is working to prepare students for success in education is through the AU Teacher Pipeline Project. This program offers DC Public Schools students who wish to be teachers a dual enrollment option and a chance to become fully funded fellows.
Students in dual enrollment take courses free of charge at AU as high school seniors. DC high schoolers who want a career in education can then apply to AU’s Teaching Fellows Program, which includes full scholarships to SOE’s Teacher Preparation Program.
“Once our AU Teaching Fellows graduate to jobs in DCPS, we stay with them for the first five years,” says Dean Holcomb-McCoy. “We want to ensure their success.” Urban Teachers, she says, utilizes coaching as well to ensure both readiness for the classroom and persistence once there.
These programs represent great opportunity for not just AU but the entire community. In recent years, between eight and 11 percent of DCPS teachers have been AU alumni, and the Teacher Pipeline Project has as its aim to ensure more DCPS teachers are from DC. The combination of these partnerships and programs will provide firm foundations for aspiring teachers seeking to make change. And that change will no doubt be immeasurable in the education of students in DC and across the country.