Grant supports Clarion University’s full-year residency program for emerging teachers

Dr. Timothy Stevenson, Clarion University’s Director of Field Services

Clarion – Pennsylvania Department of Education has awarded a $74,598 Innovative Teacher Residency Grant to Clarion University School of Education in support of Clarion’s full-year residency pilot program for emerging teachers.

“This grant will be used to supplement our grades 1-4 teacher residency pilot initiative taking place this fall and spring,” said Dr. Timothy Stevenson, director of field services. “The grant focuses on the premise that lengthened, scaffolded field experiences better prepare teacher candidates to enter the workforce with a much lower turnover rate than traditional models of student teaching,” Stevenson said.

The School of Education took on the challenge of developing programming that would allow current teacher candidates the opportunity to participate in a residency internship. Faculty and administration worked in conjunction to design a year-long program of study that would combine sequenced course content and real-world classroom experience.

“Clarion has one of the first early childhood education programs in the state to implement a full-year teacher residency,” said Dr. Gwyneth Price, dean. “Student teaching will be done the entire last year of the program, with coursework integrated into the student teaching experience.”

“The full-year residency will provide teacher candidates the unique perspective of what is involved in a working classroom from day one to the end of the school year,” Stevenson said.

Dr. Pam Gent, provost, likens the program to a medical residency.

“This model allows our students to match theory and practice, have extensive practice in the classroom and develop a wider array of skills and competencies through coaching from both the cooperating teacher and the university supervisor,” she said.

Clarion Area Elementary School is the partner school for the pilot.

“The close proximity of the partner school to the university allows university faculty and our mentor teacher participants to work closely together to adjust the program throughout the experience,” Stevenson said. “This will allow the program to best meet the needs of our emerging teacher education candidates.”

Grant money will be used to provide professional development to all participants, both at the university and at the host schools. A portion will also provide a modest stipend to help teacher candidates defray costs during the immersion experience, as they will be in the school building full-time and will have limited ability to work outside of the classroom.

The School of Education is exploring expansion of the residency program to secondary levels.