Successful Teacher Residency Program finishes out third year

First year teacher Kory Roberts was a student teacher at Memminger before graduating from the College of Charleston.

The Charleston County School District (CCSD) Summer Teacher Residency Program completed its third year; over 40 induction level teachers have completed the program. The success of the program has been overwhelming.

Last year, the Teacher Residency Program was named a finalist for the Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorks SC Award. CCSD’s Summer Teacher Residency Program is designed to recruit and retain highly effective teachers in high-needs schools.

According to Cherie Wash, Elementary District Instructional Specialist teachers from all disciplinary areas participated to include a physical education teacher and an art teacher. “The program was created to support teachers in real-time, in the field,” said Wash. “You can read all the books, but until you do it, you don’t know what it is going to look like.”

Korey Roberts is a first-year teacher at Memminger Elementary School. But he is no stranger to the 17 fifth-grade students he’s teaching this year. He was a student teacher in their classroom during his senior year at the College of Charleston. “I wanted to participate in the Teacher Residency Program, so I could become familiar with the different faces in the district and learn who could help me throughout my career to implement various strategies I the classroom,” he said. “The program helped me to target what I want from my students and narrow down how to control that and run my classroom. It was about being prepared.” Roberts considered the residency program as an extension of the four years he spent in the education program at CofC.

“It taught me strategies, behavior management, versatility, and professional development,” he said. “Master teachers modeled things I wasn’t certain on and allowed me to put my twist on it.”

Megan Orchard, CCSD Teacher on Special Assignment was his Master Teacher. She said the Summer Teacher Residency Program has been the most rewarding experience of her ten-year teacher career. “By participating as a mentor, the program forced me to face my own practice and be even more reflective about procedures, lessons, and instruction,” said Orchard. “I was enriched by working alongside the best and brightest master educators from schools across the county. Even more, I was inspired by working with our young new teachers, whose enthusiasm, ideas, and perspective gave a new rejuvenation to my approach. Within the program, teacher leaders were empowered to make critical decisions as professionals; we’re able to implement instruction that was student-focused and enriching to our young mentees.”

CCSD implemented Summer Teacher Residency Program in June 2017 to provide targeted and enhanced professional learning for novice teachers, promote teacher leadership for master practitioners, and continue student learning through the summer. This learning lab paired experienced teachers from schools throughout the district with teachers who were about to start or recently started teaching in high-needs schools.

“The level of support offered through the program builds confidence and incredible relationships well beyond the three-week summer course,” said Wash. “The program is intentional and thoughtful in providing what that teacher will need to have in place in their classroom. We teach the practicality of how it will look and feel through actual practice.”

Each morning, teaching teams co-taught with a focus on culturally responsive instructional practices and innovative learning approaches that include adaptive and personalized digital content. In the afternoon, students participated in enrichment activities through CCSD’s EPIC Program in partnership with Charleston Promise Neighborhood, allowing teacher teams to plan and reflect on the day’s outcomes. These teachers collaboratively developed and implemented a summer learning program for K-5 students at high-poverty schools

Just under 75 students at Sanders-Clyde Elementary School participated in the first year of the program. In year two, the program was held at Mary Ford Elementary School and served 120 students from both Mary Ford and Chicora Elementary School.

First year teacher Kristin Lindsay works with her second grade students at Chicora Elementary School

The program was expanded and held at both Mary Ford and Goodwin Elementary Schools. Each site served over 120 students for the course of the program. In total, 22 Master Teachers have participated in the program. Of the 22, three teachers have relocated out of state, and all others (19) remain in the profession and employed by CCSD. All of the out-of-state teachers remain in the profession. The total number of Resident Teachers is 43. Of the 43, 42 remain in the teaching profession and 40 of those in Charleston County School District. This year, 14 Master Teachers and 15 Resident Teachers participated.

CCSD’s Office of Nutrition Services has continuously partnered to provide its Seamless Summer Feeding Program to the students, offering breakfast, lunch, and two snacks every day. As part of the program, teachers worked to promote a culturally responsive instructional practice that encouraged student agency, provide opportunities for professional learning for teachers to support recruitment and retention, to build capacity to differentiate learning across the district for educators and students and to accelerate student achievement.

The program was highly effective in increasing student achievement; it gave novice teachers the tools, strategies, and habits of mind for challenges in high needs schools; and provided leadership and mentoring opportunities for the district’s highly effective master teachers. “I highly recommend incoming teachers participate in this program,” said Roberts. “It keeps you in the mind frame of being around kids, but it also shows you that you are not alone in this profession. But most importantly, it benefits your students so that they respond better to you and you’re better able to see their growth.”

Twenty-two CCSD schools had either Master or Resident Teachers participate in the Summer Teacher Residency Program. For more information, contact the Office of Strategy and Communications at (843) 937-6303.

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