Come fall, when Kansas City area children start back to school many are likely to find some special teachers joining them in the classroom.
Teachers who also will be students.
Last week during a celebration at the Kauffman Foundation, 39 men and women were named as the first class for the Kansas City Teacher Residency, a private, nonprofit organization launched this year with a $1.2 million federal seed grant.
Kauffman Foundation, in a statement about the group, described the Kansas City Teacher Residency as “an innovative program modeled from medical residencies” but designed to prepare aspiring teachers to become effective urban educators.
The group got a $90,000 operating grant from the foundation.
The 39 future teachers were selected from among 130 applications, a list that was whittled down to 92 who went through a daylong interview and teacher demonstration process.
The class consists of some recent education school graduates, along with others with bachelor’s degrees who are looking for a career change. The ethnically diverse group was selected by area district leaders and principals from the 11 school sites — including some in the Kansas City, Hickman Mills and the North Kansas City school districts — where the wanna-be teachers will do their yearlong residencies.
Kansas City Teacher Residency partnered with Park University, which will issue master’s degrees to the teacher students after they complete the two-year program at a cost of $12,500 for tuition.
In the first year of the program, students are in residence and get a $25,000 stipend. The second year they teach full time while finishing their degrees. The student teachers have committed to teach in the urban schools where they trained for at least three years.
“The reason a person would do residence is you have more time in the classroom with a master teacher where a student teacher program is typically only 12 weeks,” said Charles King, executive director of the teacher residency group.
He said the more time teachers spend in urban classrooms with guidance and instruction from master teachers, the more likely they are to continue teaching in those schools once they’ve earned the degree.
Statistics show that about half of new teachers in urban high-need schools leave within their first three years, King said. Another 25 percent will leave after their first five years.
King said the residency program is a direct response to the challenge of teacher shortages in urban cities like Kansas City.
“Missouri data shows there are more teachers coming out of universities than there are teaching jobs in the state, (and) most of those coming out of school are attracted to the suburban districts,” King said. “The shortage comes in when people desire to work in schools that don’t require as much of the teacher as is demanded of a teacher in an urban high-need school.”
It’s one of the problems the University of Missouri-Kansas City has been tackling since it launched its Institute for Urban Education program in 2005. UMKC welcomes another teacher training program targeting urban education.
“Our school of education and university is committed to the idea of improving urban education in any way possible,” said John Martellaro, UMKC spokesman. “We welcome anything that is going to make a difference in the lives of kids.”