RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond school officials tell 8News that every year they struggle with a huge amount of teacher openings. But since 2011, a partnership between VCU and Richmond Public Schools called the ‘Richmond Teacher Residency’ program has consistently helped fill those openings.
“We’re creating this sustainable pipeline,” said Terry Dozier, director of the program.
“We’re creating this sustainable pipeline” — Terry Dozier
Dozier says they recruit teachers who want to teach in an urban school system.
Candidates like medical students are placed at a Richmond school and paired with a mentor during a year of residency. In that year they earn a master’s degree, get a stipend and eventually agree to stay with the school system for an additional three years. Dozier says it gives much-needed stability and continuity for students.
“In schools where there is high turnover students suffer academically,” Dozier said.
And it’s not just filling open spots; the group says 75 percent of their teachers are rated extraordinary or above average by principals.
“If you go into teaching you want to make a difference,” teacher Carl Sitabi told 8News Reporter Mark Tenia.
Sitabi is starting his first year at Elkhardt-Thompson Middle School as a social studies teacher. He says he was attracted to teaching in Richmond in hopes of not only helping students but the community.
“Every you student you teach, every student you contribute to, every student you help develop a passion in, you receive that back ten fold,” said Sitabi.
Meanwhile Dozier is hoping to continue filling more and more openings in the future.
“If you want to make an impact in our community, there is no greater way to do that than to become a teacher,” said Dozier.