Contributed article by the Illinois Senate Democrats.
Teacher residency program to begin in 2020-2021 school year
CARLINVILLE – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) joined officials from Golden Apple and Blackburn College on Wednesday for the announcement and signing ceremony of the Golden Apple Accelerators Program, a new teacher residency and licensure program to more quickly prepare highly-qualified teachers in areas of the state where they’re most needed, including Central Illinois.
The Accelerators program is recruiting college seniors not already in a teacher preparation program and those looking to change careers who already hold a bachelor’s degree. Candidates must commit to four years of teaching in Southern, Central or Western Illinois.
In the program’s first year, 50 candidates will begin their training in the summer of 2020, earn their teaching license by summer of 2021, and enter the profession of teaching in the 2021/22 school year.
“The promise of public education starts with bright and highly-qualified classroom leaders. While we work to address the root causes of our teacher shortage, the Accelerators program will help usher talented young professionals into the Central and Southern Illinois classrooms that need them the most,” Manar said. “I was proud to advocate for this innovative new partnership in the General Assembly, and I know it will have a positive impact on Illinois students for years to come.”
The program is part of a series of initiatives proposed by Manar to remedy Illinois’ teacher shortage. Manar drummed up bipartisan support to include $750,000 in funding for the Accelerators teacher residency program in the fiscal year 2020 budget.
Blackburn College hosted the event at its Lumpkin Learning Commons. Speakers included State Senator Andy Manar, Golden Apple President Alan Mather, Blackburn Interim President and Provost John McClusky, Regional Office of Education (ROE) No. 40 Superintendent Michelle Mueller, Blackburn Professor and Former Golden Apple Scholar Michelle Stacy, and Blackburn Education Department Chair Cindy Rice.
“The teacher shortage crisis demands our immediate attention as it poses a real threat to the future of students in every corner of our state, especially the most vulnerable who are from economically challenged communities with underfunded and under-resourced schools,” said Golden Apple President Alan Mather. “There is no greater priority facing the education community today, and as an organization that has successfully championed this work, we are positioned to meet this head on and are very excited to count Blackburn College and ROE 40 among our partners.”
“Partnering with Golden Apple to address the Illinois teacher shortage crisis is a natural fit for Blackburn and our excellent Education program,” said John McClusky, the recently-appointed Interim President of Blackburn College. “As the only student-managed work program in the nation, Blackburn has always sought to find innovative solutions for systemic problems. That’s why we are excited and honored to join with Golden Apple on the ‘Accelerators’ program to help solve Illinois’s teacher shortage. Students deserve excellent teachers and Golden Apple is a proven leader in the space.”
The Accelerators program will provide a one-year residency and training program, allowing immediate additional teaching assistance to understaffed districts while preparing the new teachers for classroom work.
Golden Apple is partnering with Blackburn College, Eastern Illinois University and ROEs 3, 13, 39, 40 and 47. Partnering ROEs will provide a valuable residency placement to an Accelerator; place a mentor teacher from the district with the Accelerator; allow for appropriate release time to complete university coursework; and hire and offer career development resources for the Accelerator in the two years following the residency.
Program participants will receive:
- A $30,000 stipend to apply towards coursework or housing as they pursue their teaching license
- Teaching licensure within 15 months
- A one-year residency and training program in a targeted partner school district in Southern, Central or Western Illinois
- Coursework at a partner university
- Job placement in a partner school district in Southern, Central or Western Illinois
- Instruction from award-winning educators
- Mentoring support for the first years of teaching