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Summer Academy Helps Students, Trains Teachers

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Photo: Video by NewsChannel5.com

Summer Academy Helps Students, Trains Teachers

CREATED Jun 19, 2014
by Aundrea line-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - For hundreds of Metro students, school never really ended. They're participating in Teach For America's (TFA) new free summer academy. The program is meant to curb learning loss that impacts so many students over the summer. It's also to train Metro's newest teachers who are getting their first introduction to the classroom.

Ben Schumacher is trading a business career for unfamiliar territory. Teach for America's new summer academy doubles as a training ground for its new teachers, who for the most part, don't have a background in education.

Around 600 to 700 students are in the program. 

“It's a grueling several weeks in the summertime,” says Jon Driskell, Elementary Academy Summer Director for Metro Nashville Public Schools. “There's a lot to learn.”

Schumacher spends some of his day observing other teachers then gets his chance in front the class - all while being monitored by an instructional coach and mentor

“You're also giving them tips on what they can do to improve their instruction to be better for the students,” mentor Nicole Bonner says.

Metro Schools starts in six weeks. The summer is a crash course to get them ready.

“There's no way to fully expect all the things you need to learn to be an awesome teacher and I'm going to be years in the making as we all are,” Schumacher says.

Each Corp member makes a two-year commitment and is placed in one of the district's neediest schools. Forty-seven percent of teachers in the 2012 cohort are staying in the classroom beyond that initial commitment. Many of those who are leaving will remain in education in another capacity.

“It's very hard but TFA is offering the program to get them comfortable now so they can excel during the school year,” says Bonner.

That support and highly selective application process makes Teach For America one of the most effective teacher preparation programs according to the state report card. According to the 2013 report the average Corp member’s ACT score was a 28 and college GPA was a 3.6. The report also showed Corps members performance was comparable to other new teachers and in some areas even exceeded veteran teachers.

When the students leave, the teacher’s day is only half way done. Hours of professional development follows as the countdown begins to August 1.

“I feel like I will be prepared and confident,” says Schumacher.