MCPSS partners with West Alabama in teacher training program

Hankins Middle

Mobile County Public Schools is one of three school systems that has partnered with the University of West Alabama in a teacher residency program designed to train tomorrow's teachers. West Alabama has been awarded $6.5 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education for Project REACh, a teacher residency project that will be led by the Tutwiler College of Education.

“Project REACh will recruit, train, and graduate 60 diverse, highly effective teachers who are well prepared to teach in Alabama’s high-need schools,” explained Dr. Jan Miller, Dean of the College of Education at UWA.

Project REACh (Residencies for Educating Alabama’s Children) will be a $13-million-dollar project for prospective Alabama’s educators. This is the largest single grant award that UWA has received to date, with the funding to be disbursed over a five-year period. The other systems partnering in the project are the Tuscaloosa County School System and University Charter School. Schools within these systems were selected based in part on their designation as qualified opportunity zones.

“We look forward to partnering with UWA’s Project REACh to attract more teachers to Mobile County Public Schools, particularly in some of our schools that have experienced a shortage of teaching applicants,” said MCPSS Superintendent Chresal D. Threadgill. “This is an innovative approach to tackle the nationwide teacher shortage. This will give us the opportunity to train and get to know these teachers during their 14-month residency and to ultimately hire them. It is a program that will truly benefit our students.”

The initiative is designed to improve the achievement of K-12 students, reducing the achievement gaps in literacy, mathematics, STEM and computer science.  By preparing teacher mentors who are skilled in working with clinical residents to improve their practice, host schools’ capacity to provide high quality clinical experiences for preservice teachers will result in increased teacher effectiveness.  The residency program will establish and design a clinically-rich teacher preparation program grounded in evidence-based practices.

New teachers will benefit from a sustainable induction program in their first two years of teaching, followed by a retention program for certified career teachers.

“We could not be more proud of the team that has developed Project REACh, particularly the College of Education, in collaboration with UWA’s Office of Sponsored Programs and Research,” said UWA President Ken Tucker. “This is a model of innovation and responsive leadership that sets UWA apart in our efforts to effectively address the needs of the region we serve. With the support of this grant award, UWA is ultimately investing $13 million in Alabama’s families by way of quality teacher education and career-strengthening opportunities.”

The United States Department of Education, Teacher Quality Partnership program, funded $6.5 million (50 percent) of the $13 million UWA Project REACh grant award; UWA and other non-Federal funds match this funding.

To learn more about UWA’s Project REACh, email projectreach@uwa.edu or call Project Director, Susan Hester at 205-652-5426.