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Atlanta Launches STEM Teacher Residency

Atlanta Public Schools has a plan for easing its shortage of math and science teachers: Create them.

The 50,000-student district is launching a residency program to prepare both career-changers and existing educators to work in math and science classrooms, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (11/15). Recruits will spend a year shadowing a high-performing APS teacher while completing a master’s in education from Georgia State University. They will pay their own tuition but will receive a starting salary of up to $30,000 while attending school in exchange for agreeing to teach four years in the urban school district.

“We wanted to improve the teachers coming into the system, and the best way to do that is to have a hand in their preparation,” explained Qualyn McIntyre, who is overseeing the approximately $1.5 million a year program. The initiative is being funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Atlanta also is one of the first districts in the nation to sign on with Urban Teacher Residency United, which connects cities where residency programs are being offered.

Sara Mercadante, a graduate from the first cohort in the Denver Public Schools residency program, said working for a year with a master teacher gave her a window into what teaching would be like. The former archaeology major and event planner experienced fun things like setting up the classroom and harsh realities like reporting child abuse.

“By the time it came to my first year, I had already done report cards and parent conferences. I had already filled out a child abuse report,” she said. “It was still hard, but I had some sort of cushion.”

Atlanta Public Schools will start accepting applications for residents at the end of November through a website. Teachers will earn a master’s of arts in teaching with a focus in secondary math.

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