In the Community
When President Barack Obama acknowledges the work of your program, you know you must be doing something right.
In March 2011, President Obama recognized the University of Massachusetts Boston and its Teach Next Year program during a speech at TechBoston Academy in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. The 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.”
Lisa Gonsalves, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction at UMass Boston and the director of Teach Next Year, says, "We all just kind of lifted out of our seat" when UMass Boston was mentioned.
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.
“I think it represents UMass Boston’s true urban mission,” says Gonsalves, who has made a career out of training educators. “The program recruits career changers. We have nurses, lawyers, and engineers who want to teach.”
It’s not just the teachers themselves who are benefiting from this program, but the community as a whole.
Gonsalves earned the University of Massachusetts President’s Public Service Award for her contribution in the Dorchester community.
Gonsalves’ extensive work with the Boston Public Schools has also led to recognition on a national scale: a $3.5 million Teacher Quality Partnership grant from the federal government and a $750,000 Phase Two grant from the Noyce Foundation. Robert Noyce, cofounder of Intel, started the Noyce Foundation to improve the teaching of math, science, and literacy.
“These grants validate the work we’ve been doing in partnership with the Boston Public Schools to prepare teachers for urban schools,” Gonsalves says.
Through the book she coauthored with Jack Leonard, a headmaster in the Dorchester school system, New Hope for Urban Schools, Gonsalves is sharing lessons that can be applied to all urban schools. This means other communities can benefit from the work UMass Boston is doing in its own community.