Partnership trains new teachers, increases summer learning options for students

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Teach For America (TFA), Dallas ISD, Momentous Institute, and Southern Methodist University’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development have formed a partnership to train new teachers and to expand summer learning opportunities for Dallas students through the Teach For America DFW Summer Institute, which begins this week.

Through this partnership, Teach For America–Dallas-Fort Worth is bringing a pre-service training program to Dallas for the first time; new Teach For America teachers will complete their student teaching program developed by Teach For America staff in conjunction with the three partner organizations and will be housed on SMU’s campus. Through this program, Teach For America staff and new teachers will expand academic instructional capacity for Dallas ISD and provide expanded summer learning opportunities for approximately 1,400 students at Dallas ISD schools, including Thomas Jefferson High School, Francisco “Pancho” Medrano Middle School, and Stephen C. Foster Elementary School.

“The expansion of our summer learning labs allows us to reach more of our most at-risk students, engaging them throughout the summer in preparing for the upcoming school year,” Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles said. “Partnering with Teach For America not only allows us to provide opportunities for significant academic growth for students during the summer, but also support the development of high quality teachers who will be entering our classrooms full-time in the fall.”

This is the first year that Teach For America–Dallas-Fort Worth teachers will complete their summer pre-service training in Dallas.

The regional institute has been developed by local Teach For America staff to meet the unique needs of Dallas ISD students. New teachers will receive development and coaching from TFA staff, Momentous Institute staff, and SMU Simmons School faculty. During the summer, TFA teachers will also provide additional capacity at Dallas ISD Summer Learning Labs, to help students make significant academic advancement in summer school classrooms.

This training begins a two-year continuum of training and support provided to novice teachers by Teach For America instructional coaches, funded by the local private philanthropic community and public sources including the Texas Education Agency and AmeriCorps.  The TFA program continuum dovetails with fee-based Alternative Certification training required by the State of Texas and provided to new TFA teachers by both SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Uplift Education’s Teaching Excellence.

“Teach For America provides a valuable pipeline of teachers into some of our city’s most challenging classrooms,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.  “We are proud to serve as a major certification partner for Teach For America instructors in the region and delighted to open the Simmons School’s facilities and resources for the Teach For America DFW Summer Institute. The teachers will be a welcome addition to our campus this summer.”

“Teach For America–Dallas-Fort Worth’s new regional institute will deepen the organization’s impact in the Dallas community,” said Mayor Mike Rawlings.  “Our city welcomes the enthusiasm, energy, and optimism that Teach For America teachers bring to local classrooms and schools.  With this new partnership I’m encouraged to see some of our area’s premier education organizations – Dallas ISD, Momentous Institute, SMU, Teach For America – working together to form a unique learning opportunity for new teachers and Dallas public school students.

The Momentous Institute, powered by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, has been a key partner in developing the new teacher curriculum for this new program in partnership with TFA. Leveraging their significant knowledge and experience in creating classroom culture and supporting students’ social emotional needs, Momentous Institute educators and therapists will be actively delivering content to new teachers and coaching in classrooms. Their contribution will build off of the strategies TFA uses to support new teachers in classroom management.

“We are inspired by Teach For America’s vision to bring together local partners and leverage each other for the good of the kids in our community,” said Michelle Kinder, executive director of the Momentous Institute. “The Salesmanship Club and Momentous Institute have been building and repairing social emotional health for 95 years and this partnership allows us to expand our reach by working with innovative partners who want real change focused on kids.”

Teach For America is a nonprofit organization that recruits top college graduates and professionals to teach in high-needs public schools serving students from low-income backgrounds and make a lifelong commitment to educational equity. During the 2014–2015 school year, Teach For America’s sixth year in Dallas-Fort Worth, nearly 450 corps members taught in high-needs schools across the Metroplex.  Approximately 530 Teach For America alumni are working in the region impacting local communities. Nearly 70 percent continue to work in education as teachers, school and district leaders, and in education non-profit space.

“The Teach For America DFW Summer Institute is a unique partnership opportunity,” said Alex Hales, executive director of Teach For America in Dallas-Fort Worth.  “We know that a teacher with outstanding preparation is best positioned to lead all students to succeed. And, we believe it is possible to create a teacher training program that heightens the level of collaboration in our community to build even better teachers. Dallas ISD, SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Momentous Institute powered by the Salesmanship Club, and Teach For America are joining together to transform the way we train new teachers in Dallas.”

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