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Darden College of Education Wins $6 Million Grant to Improve Instruction in Schools

Old Dominion University's Darden College of Education received a five-year, $6 million grant - one of only 28 in the country - from the U.S. Department of Education to help improve instruction in struggling schools.

ODU is one of 28 higher education institutions in the country to share an overall DoE Teacher Quality Partnership  grant award of $43 million aimed at improving student academic achievement by strengthening teacher preparation, training and effectiveness and helping school districts attract potential educators from a wide-range of professional backgrounds.

The grant will fund the "Teacher Immersion Residency" project, a collaboration between Old Dominion and the Portsmouth and Norfolk school divisions.

Sharon Judge, associate dean for graduate studies and assessment in the Darden College, is principal investigator for the ODU grant. "The grant is a unique collaboration of key stakeholders in Hampton Roads to improve the quality of teaching, increase teacher retention and improve student achievement in high-need secondary schools in the region," she said. "We are very excited about this opportunity."

ODU's Teacher Immersion Residency project (ODU-TIR) will build on successful teacher residency models that recruit candidates with undergraduate degrees in high-need content fields, immerse them in an induction program housed in an urban school, provide them mentoring and instruction founded on research, and continue to offer professional development during the early years of their careers.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to increase the number of highly trained teachers in our high schools, and offer our students more college-level course work," said Norfolk Public Schools Superintendent Stephen C. Jones. "We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Education and to ODU for giving us this fantastic opportunity."

In addition to integrating a residency with professional studies, the project will offer 18 graduate-level hours of content coursework, including a state-of-the-art immersion internship. According to Judge, because the internships will take place in local settings such as the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, the project also engages the community in a broad-based partnership dedicated to improving the outcomes of our high-need students. Additionally, the extra credits will qualify ODU-TIR graduates to teach dual enrollment courses, in an identified high-need content area for the respective school districts.

"The Portsmouth Public School Division staff is very excited about working collaboratively with our colleagues at Old Dominion University and in the Norfolk Public Schools to make the Teacher Immersion Residency program a resounding success," said Portsmouth Superintendent David C. Stuckwisch. "The program completers will be qualified to teach at both the secondary and community-college levels. Our new education professionals will form a corps of teachers who will teach our dual enrollment courses in partnership with Tidewater Community College. Portsmouth's dual enrollment classes are critical to the long-range success of our students as both valued employees and responsible citizens."

Judge noted that the grant covers tuition and fees and that all students recruited into the program will also receive a salary.

For more information about ODU's Teacher Immersion Residency project, e-mail TeacherImmersionResidency@odu.edu.

This article was posted on: October 29, 2009

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