In May 2021, Warsaw Community Schools (WCS) announced a $30,000 grant award from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. This competitive grant allowed WCS and Grace College to develop two new teacher residents for the 2021-22 school year.
The Teacher Residency Grant Pilot Program was created in 2019 by the Indiana General Assembly. The program is focused on high-need teaching areas in the state of Indiana. Modeled after medical residency and apprenticeship programs, teacher residency programs are full-year teaching experiences for student educators. Students will teach alongside experienced mentor teachers, preparing them for their own classroom after graduation.
WCS and Grace College spent over a year planning for the teacher residency positions. Grace College teacher residency candidates were carefully selected and vetted by Grace College’s School of Education chair, Elementary Education Chair, and Special Education Chair. Highly qualified candidates in both the resident and the mentor positions are crucial to long-term success. For the 2021-22 school year, Grace College selected Bri Tapscott and Amanda Minich for the two teacher residency positions.
Amanda has been placed at Madison Elementary with Monique Lyon, special education teacher, and Amanda Stookey, 2nd grade teacher. Bri has been placed at Jefferson Elementary with Rachel Jensen, special education teacher, and Jamie George, 5th grade teacher. “This program has given Amanda the opportunity to be so involved in our school that she feels just like another staff member and a crucial part of my team. This is a great way for her to learn first-hand for an entire year and to apply her knowledge in a classroom where she feels comfortable teaching with others. I can’t wait to see her development as a teacher over the course of a full year,” shared Monique Lyon, special education teacher at Madison Elementary.
For the 2021-22, WCS focused on special education residency positions because these are high-need and hard-to-fill positions. The teacher residents are working toward dual licensure and certification in both special education and elementary education. They will split time throughout the full year with mentors in both the special education and general education classrooms. Teacher residents will also have college supervisors in each area who will help provide guidance and support.
The primary motivation for implementing a teacher residency partnership is to support future educators who will be more prepared for a teaching role, which as a result, will better support students. These teacher residency positions will be particularly valuable because they will promote collaboration and ongoing support throughout the course of an entire school year with quality mentors to strengthen their instructional practices. WCS and Grace College hope to continue this program in future years.