Teacher residency program Project Inspire has expanded.
“This expansion comes with the addition of a new elementary school pathway,” Project Inspire communication and operation manager Lauren Bensman said. “Now that we’ve added the elementary school pathway, we are accepting people from all majors. That means we are able to grow a little more.”
The local residency program originally aimed to train teachers to become secondary math and science teachers. This is the first year that the program’s participants have trained to teach elementary school.
The number of program participants has also increased. Last year, seven students graduated from Project Inspire. This year, 23 residents are participating, Bensman said.
“That’s tripling in size, which is a pretty big deal for us,” she said.
The program’s participants are now at nine training locations. They’ve completed some coursework toward master’s degrees from Lee University and will spend time in classrooms teaching before going back to school full time.
The residents come out of the yearlong program, which is led by veteran educators, with a license to teach and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.
Now that the program has the elementary school pathway, about two-thirds of this year’s 23 participants are on that track.
Leaders would like to see more of a 50–50 split, Bensman said.
Recruitment is currently underway for the 2018–2019 class, and leaders will continue to focus on training secondary math/science teachers, according to a news release.
The early application deadline is Nov. 6, but applications will be accepted through Feb. 27. The application can be found on the Project Inspire website.
Bensman recently moved from Atlanta to Chattanooga and said part of what drew her here is the city’s spirit of innovation.
“I think [that spirit] extends beyond technology and business,” she said. “This residency model is new … and I think it’s an area where Chattanooga can be a thought leader and pioneer this model.”