March 28, 2019 – New York State Board of Regents Member Beverly Ouderkirk, along with WSWHE BOCES District Superintendent Mr. James Dexter, visited residents of the Classroom Academy at the Cambridge Central School District. The Classroom Academy is the first 2-year graduate level residency in the state. Hudson Falls Central School District, Beekmantown Central School District, and WSWHE BOCES are also participating in the program. The tour was coordinated and led by recently retired 30 year faculty member and current Classroom Academy program director, Colleen McDonald.
“The Classroom Academy is a residency program that is a teacher-led initiative. It puts the success of P-20 partnerships on display, as it honors the complexity of teaching and values the practitioner’s voice in preparing our next generation of teaching professionals. It is a win-win for everyone, the district, the resident teachers, and most importantly, the students,” said Colleen McDonald.
Cambridge Central School District, in the second year of the program, has three resident teachers (one first year, two second years) serving in second grade, sixth grade, and high school English. Each level was represented on the tour. The first stop was Mrs. Heather Gwin’s second grade class. The students enthusiastically told Regent Ouderkirk about their resident teacher, Ms. Stacia Bonano, who is teaching them sign language. The next stop was Ms. Therese DeCan’s sixth grade class where Regent Ouderkirk and Superintendent Dexter had the opportunity to observe resident teacher Ms. Kayleigh Ward prepare the class for a writing exercise. Mrs. DeCan had the opportunity to elaborate on the benefits of the program with the officials once the students paired off to work on their assignment. The final visit was to Mr. Jason Sutliff’s English 11 class, where officials got to observe group presentations facilitated by resident teacher Mr. Adam Cabana.
What is The Classroom Academy Residency Program?
In 2016, the Cambridge Faculty Association, as lead affiliate, was awarded a National Education Association (NEA) Great Public Schools grant to pilot the Classroom Academy: A Residency Model for Teacher Preparation. The model provides a $22,000 per year living stipend to residents while they work in a local school district for two years and earn their Master’s degree at a partnering institution of higher education. This embedded model replaces the traditional field experience and student-teacher placements and is based on other professional trainings, such as medical students, enabling teacher residents to work side-by-side with accomplished educators. The residency allows candidates to learn, then apply, the science of teaching they hone their craft, practicing the art of teaching.
How was the program developed and implemented?
In 2015, Colleen McDonald, an NBCT and Cambridge faculty member, earned a planning grant from the NEA Great Public School program in the amount of $40,000 to initiate a steering team and conversations with higher education as to how to create a more robust, experientially based, and sustainable model for teacher preparation to recruit, train, and retain high quality candidates. The steering team was comprised of multiple partners, including the Cambridge Faculty Association, the district superintendent, principals, teachers who previously served as cooperating teachers, WSWHE BOCES, the SUNY Plattsburg’s Queensbury branch campus dean, field supervisor and program coordinator, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, NYSUT, the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center, and NYSED.
In the final year of planning, the Steering Team was expanded to include both Hudson Falls and the WSWHE BOCES as participants in placement for the proposed Classroom Academy Residency pilot program. The steering team was awarded a three year NEA Great Public School grant to implement their proposed model across the three partners.
This pilot required significant shifts in thinking for all partners involved, including experienced teachers committing to a two year embedded placement with a graduate level candidate and to continuous learning. Higher education re-crafted the delivery of M.S.T. program coursework, and the State Education Department created a Residency Certificate so residents in the program could be paid a $22,000 per year living stipend through a BOCES Contract for Shared Services (CoSER). The BOCES CoSER allows the grant funding to decrease each year as revenue from BOCES aid, for program personnel expenses, becomes established, ultimately making the Classroom Academy program model sustainable beyond the completion of the grant.
For additional information visit https://www.classroomacademy.org/