Starting in the spring, 30 aspiring teachers in their senior year at University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s College of Education will begin a one-year residency program in the classrooms of veteran Lafayette Parish School System educators.
The veteran teachers will serve as mentors to the seniors through a new teacher training program funded by the Louisiana Department of Education.
The Lafayette Parish School System and UL-Lafayette’s College of Education are in line to receive a $200,000 grant from the state education department to fund the new teacher preparation program.
The program places teacher candidates into the classroom as a co-teacher with a mentor for a more intensive student teaching experience, said Peter Sheppard, a College of Education professor and head of its curriculum and instruction department.
“Now, they have a single semester of student teaching,” Sheppard said.
“With this new model, they’ll be student teaching for an equivalent of a year. The advantage to them is that they will get to see the end of the school year and the beginning of the school year.”
The grant was awarded through the Louisiana Department of Education’s Believe and Prepare grant program, which is designed to enhance the teacher training experience.
The grant awards to school districts, charter schools and teacher prep programs range between $25,000 and $200,000.
The UL-Lafayette and school system program is called: “Collaborative for the Apprenticeship of Acadiana Area Prospective Teachers.”
Sheppard said the $200,000 will fund stipends for the UL-Lafayette students and the teacher-mentors and for their professional development to co-teach as part of the program.
The grant enables the school system and the university to test the training model, which Sheppard said he hopes can be sustained without additional funding.
“We’re trying to find ways to embed this approach in our curriculum without putting any additional strain on our students — both financially and academically — so that’s why the pilot is so important,” he said.
The school system is working on identifying mentors for the program, school officials said in a news release.
The partnerships created as part of the grant program “will build a statewide corps of over 500 mentor teachers who will work with teachers preparing for certification, grow the number of aspiring teachers in full-year residencies up to 1,000 for the 2016-2017 school year, and increase the number of special education teachers preparing to teach in Louisiana,” state education officials said in a news release.
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