Two of Colorado’s longtime teacher residency programs are joining forces to expand their reach and prepare at least 50 more teachers each year to help fill a declining workforce.
The Boettcher Teacher Residency, which has been around for 12 years, and the 24-year-old Stanley Teacher Prep program are making the announcement Wednesday.
The joint residency program will take on the name of the Boettcher Teacher Residency and will continue to provide a year of in-classroom training for aspiring teachers while they work toward a degree. Preparing 180 new teachers every year, with possible expansion later, will make it Colorado’s largest teacher residency program.
“One of the real goals here is to get to a place where we can really develop a pipeline of educators,” said Rosann Ward, president of Public Education and Business Coalition, which runs the Boettcher Teacher Residency program. “What we do now is we recruit as we need, and that has lead us to a place where schools are understaffed or not appropriately staffed. How do we have this statewide bench so they’re on the bench waiting?”
The most recent reports show there are fewer people in Colorado deciding to become educators, with a decline of enrollment in educator programs, and a decline in those completing the programs or earning a teaching license.
The trend is similar nationwide. Combined with similar decreases in retention, some school districts report teacher shortages.
Numbers vary, but according to a report published in April by the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 17 percent of public school teachers leave education within five years of starting.
Data provided by the two joining programs shows nearly 94 percent of graduates from each residency are still in the classroom eight years later.
The Boettcher program has participants sign a five-year contract, but the Stanley program has no contract.
“We really believe what’s holding these folks is the support and the training,” Ward said. Officials are considering changing or eliminating the requirement now, she said.
Jessie Massey, who has been a teacher for five years after graduating from the Boettcher residency, is starting this year as an instructional coach for other teachers at a school in Mapleton Public Schools.
She said learning to create a network of support, and learning to create relationships with students, has kept her teaching.
“Sometimes teachers feel they can’t ask for help,” Massey said. “Learning that it’s OK to make mistakes is really valuable.”
During the year-long residency, teachers-in-training are paired with a veteran mentor teacher to run a classroom together and, as officials say, get to see the good days and the bad.
But students are key and the reason Massey was willing to leave her classroom to help other teachers reach more students.
“For me, teaching is about relationships,” Massey said. “That’s easy to lose sight of. That’s also something Boettcher really stresses. It supports classroom management and so much else.”
Yesenia Robles: 303-954-1372, [email protected] or @yeseniarobles