School districts in southeastern Connecticut are participating in a program that seeks to develop a diverse education workforce.
LEARN, the Regional Educational Service Center working with schools in southeastern Connecticut, is bringing the Teacher Residency Program to its area. The Teacher Residency Program, or TRP, was started by the Capitol Region Education Council in the Hartford region.
“Our goal is to increase the number of teachers of color across Connecticut," said Marlene Megos, director of the TRP.
The CREC has supported two cohorts of teachers so far, producing 26 new teachers of color. Now they are expanding their program to LEARN and several other Regional Educational Service Centers (RESCs) across the state.
"This has been a long time coming," said Ushawnda Mithcell, the TRP program coordinator. "We want to make sure we have teachers in front of our students that reflect the student population.”
LEARN, which works with 21 school districts, is hoping to have 12 to 15 residents in school districts this year. They are putting forth $45,000 to help with the effort.
"LEARN's investment is really an investment in the programming to offset some of the costs that our districts or the residents would have to absorb," said Ryan Donlon, the associate executive director of LEARN. "We all share in the equity goal. We all share in the vision of having all children benefit from having a diverse teaching staff.”
The program is designed to address barriers that future teachers of color may have experienced in the past. The residents are enrolled in coursework through the RESC. In addition to classes, they are hired by a local school district and partnered with a mentor teacher.
“They will both learn the theory of the coursework and the reality of the practice," said Donlon.
After the 18 months, the resident is eligible for a full time teaching position in the district they were hired in.
Several school districts in southeastern Connecticut have committed to hosting residents including Groton Public Schools and Ledyard Public Schools.
“This is a great opportunity to join a program that brings amazing people into the education system," said Jason Hartling, superintendent of Ledyard Public Schools.
According to Hartling, about 28% of the student body identifies as students of color. About 4.5% of Ledyard teachers are persons of color.
"We want to break down those barriers, create opportunities for our students to see people of color in teaching positions and for them to be able to bring their amazing experiences to our classrooms," said Hartling.
Applications for the TRP will be accepted until March of this year. Residents will begin their coursework in the summer.
The RESCs hope to have 60 to 80 residents across the state this year.
Details on how to apply can be found here.