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Bard College MAT Program Receives $8.1 Million Grant for Teacher Training Initiatives

Grant Supports the Bard College MAT Program’s Rural Teacher Residencies in California’s Central Valley

Mark Primoff

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY—Bard College has received an $8.1 million Teacher Quality Partnership grant from the U.S. Department of Education. One of only 28 awarded out of 172 applications, Bard’s grant, to be phased over five years, will go toward the Bard College Rural Teacher Residency Program, a partnership through Bard’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program that will create, implement, and provide documentation of a model rural teaching residency program, based on the Bard MAT programs in the Central Valley region of California.

The federal awards, totaling $43 million, aim to improve the quality of teaching in public elementary and secondary schools where children are in greatest need of educational support. The grants will be used to reform traditional university teacher preparation and teacher residency programs.

“Bard is proud, as a private institution, to contribute to the improvement of educational opportunities for those most in need,” said Bard College President Leon Botstein. “We are grateful to our partners at Paramount for giving us this opportunity, and to the Federal Government for its generous support.”

“Highly effective teaching is crucial to student success,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “These grants offer an opportunity to develop new models for how teachers are prepared and supported. They will create and implement a variety of pathways, including the teaching residency model, to bring talented individuals into the classroom. This investment will reap long-term benefits for schools and children.”

Bard College Rural Teacher Residency Program is a partnership of 25 high-need rural California Local Educational Agencies (LEA’s) with 86 high-need schools, Bard College, Bard’s MAT Program, the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College, California Teacher Recruitment Project at Tulare County Office of Education, Paramount Agricultural Companies, and Resnick Foundation, all of which have joined together to serve the needs of students in the Central Valley region of California. More than half of the students in this region speak English as a second language, and poverty levels (as defined by free- and reduced-lunch figures) in many of the region’s communities reach 70 to 80 percent. The partnership will recruit, train and support teaching residents for service in these high-need rural schools. These teachers will receive an annual living stipend and tuition assistance provided by the partners to earn a master of arts in teaching degree from Bard College and the certification needed for service in California secondary schools. The partnership also will ensure documentation of the program’s results.

With the generous support of the Resnick Foundation, Bard’s MAT program in Delano, California, shares a common campus with the Paramount Bard Academy, an inclusive public school and early college high school designed and administered by the MAT program, that opened its doors in August. (President Obama has recognized Bard High School Early College in New York as a prime example of exemplary educational reform.) The teachers’ residencies will take place at this high school early college, which raises expectations of academic success for all students. The Bard MAT Program’s model of college–public school partnership emphasizes professional collaboration for the advancement of student achievement. The program produces teachers with both advanced disciplinary knowledge and mentored classroom experience who teach students to think critically and build enthusiasm for learning. The California project will demonstrate that at-risk students can succeed with teachers who know how to adapt teaching styles to the differing needs of individual learners and who possess a high level of competence in their subject areas. Preparing teachers in this way blends theory and practice in an environment that offers a singular model of teaching and learning, which in turn becomes a template for educational leadership as these graduates move into other Central Valley schools.

“This generous grant from the federal government will help us recruit highly educated college graduates into the MAT program, allowing them to continue studies in their academic field while they engage in an integrated program of graduate studies and a year-long internship in an innovative public school,” said Ric Campbell, director of Bard’s MAT Program. “Quality of teaching is the most significant factor in raising the quality of student learning, and this grant will be pivotal in helping us raise the quality of current and future teachers in some of the nation’s neediest schools through a unique model of graduate and public school collaboration.

“This federal funding supports a teacher residency program that, like a medical residency program, advances professional growth for pre-service and in-service teachers in the context of advancing public school programs,” said Campbell. The grant also provides for intensive work with teachers in the region in active partnerships that invite current practitioners to engage with the challenges and ideas that inform the work of the Bard MAT Program.”

About the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program at Bard College

The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program, founded in 2003, responds to an urgent need for change in public education. Bard’s MAT Program engages students, faculty, and public school teachers in advancing the best ideas about teacher preparation and the improvement of secondary and postsecondary education. It offers the one-year M.A.T. program at its campuses in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and Delano, California. The Bard MAT also offers a two-year M.A.T. program, and a five-year combined program leading to the bachelor of arts and master of arts in teaching degrees to Bard undergraduates at its Annandale-on-Hudson campus. In partnership with the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, students may apply for a two-year dual degree program (master of science in environmental policy and master of arts in teaching). All programs of study include integrated course work, student teaching, and independent research, and upon satisfactory completion of these programs, MAT graduates receive a master of arts in teaching degree and a New York State Initial Certificate in Adolescent Education (grades 7-12) in one of four areas: English, mathematics, biology, and history. With the inception of the MAT campus in Delano, graduates will also be able to earn their California Teacher Credential.

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This event was last updated on 10-06-2009