The Project Inspire teacher residency began the 2017-2018 school year by more than doubling in size and with Lee University as the new higher-education partner. In eight years of operation, Project Inspire has grown to 23 residents at nine training sites and added an early childhood licensure track. Recruitment is currently underway for the 2018-2019 class, with continued focus on training secondary math/science educators to work in Hamilton County. The early application deadline is Nov. 6, but applications will continue to be accepted through Feb. 27. The application can be found on the Project Inspire website.
Chattanooga’s only teacher residency program, Project Inspire partners with Hamilton County Schools, Lee University, and the Public Education Foundation to train high quality teacher candidates in high-need classrooms across Hamilton County. Dr. Justin Robertson, assistant superintendent, said he is pleased Project Inspire is placing an emphasis on literacy as a key part of effective elementary instruction. “Project Inspire has supplied HCDE with some of our district’s strongest teachers,” Dr. Robertson said. “The program taps into a distinct pipeline of talent.”
Long-standing partner schools Tyner High and Tyner Middle were joined last year by Ooltewah Middle. Beginning this year, residents are also training at Red Bank High, Battle Academy, Dupont Elementary, East Side Elementary, East Lake Elementary, and Lakeside Academy.
Saunya Goss, principal at Battle Academy, has five residents in her school this year. “It has been a wonderful addition to our learning community,” said Principal Goss. “Each resident brings different strengths to the school.”
Hamilton County schools now employ 35 Project Inspire graduates, including seven new graduates from the class of 2017.
The 14-month program integrates graduate coursework with a year-long, real-world apprenticeship in the classroom. Dr. Bill Estes, dean of the Helen DeVos College of Education says of Lee’s take on teacher development, “We spend time developing the relational aspect of teaching. We get to know our students and encourage them to do the same with the students in their classrooms.”
Resident Jonathan Ramirez, who works with first graders at East Side Elementary, is already taking that advice to heart. “It’s my job to make them feel welcome, but actually, they made me feel welcome.”
William Budd, a Project Inspire graduate who teaches math at The Howard School, says, “Project Inspire prepared me for the classroom in a very realistic way. I learned how to gain the students’ respect while also setting boundaries. It’s been one of the most valuable lessons in leading a classroom of my own.”