UMass Boston’s Teach Next Year Catches President Obama’s Attention
March 18, 2011
“It was really exciting when he said, ‘UMass Boston.’”
When the “he” Teach Next Year director Lisa Gonsalves is talking about is President Barack Obama, exciting might be a bit of an understatement.
President Obama recognized UMass Boston in a speech during his March 8 visit to TechBoston Academy in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. UMass Boston's Teach Next Year program has prepared many of the teachers who have worked at the pilot school.
“I wanted to come to TechBoston so that the rest of America can see how it’s done,” President Obama began his speech. “You guys are a model for what’s happening all across the country.”
The UMass Boston recognition came shortly after.
"... We're also working to give educators the support and the preparation that they need, and I know that some of the teachers here have benefited from our investment in these programs, such as the teacher preparation partnership you have with the Boston Teachers Residency and with UMass Boston.
Gonsalves, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction at UMass Boston, and Chancellor J. Keith Motley were both in attendance for the visit.
"We all just kind of lifted out of our seat," Gonsalves said when talking about the reaction in the room to hearing UMass Boston mentioned.
After going through the Teach Next Year program, UMass Boston alumni James Louis and Sandra Derstine now teach at TechBoston. As part of the decade-old program, career changers from the science and math fields take three semesters of classes in the College of Education and Human Development while working with a mentor teacher for an entire school year. The idea is to earn a master’s degree in education and a Massachusetts teaching license in about a year. The students ultimately take over two classes, and, after they graduate, are guaranteed a teaching job in Boston.
The Teach Next Year program has grown from 10 students to 40, who now work in about a dozen schools. The success of the program has inspired the city of Boston to develop a similar program called Boston Teacher Residency.
In his speech, President Obama said he’s working to expand the government’s investment in these kind of programs.
"... With so many baby boomers retiring from teaching over the next few years, we intend to recruit and prepare a new generation of teachers, including 100,000 new math and science teachers over the next decade."
Chancellor Motley was beaming when he spoke about the President’s visit.
“As chancellor, I take great pride in our university’s role in helping to make TechBoston a national model for success worthy of Presidential recognition,” he said.
“There were two great things about it,” Gonsalves added. “One: just being there. Two: watching the students. They were just giddy with excitement. You could just tell when he walked in the room, they just swelled.”