University News

Graduate School teams up with Teach for America

Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Many students facing graduation struggle with the question of whether to apply to graduate school or brave the workforce. Now, thanks to a new partnership between the Graduate School and Teach for America, some graduate students in Rhode Island will be able to do both.

Participants in the Rhode Island branch of Teach for America will be able to enroll part time in Brown’s Urban Education Policy program and earn a master’s degree, while maintaining their full-time teaching responsibilities in Rhode Island public schools.

In the past, the education department’s Urban Education Policy program has only been offered to full-time students as a 12-month master’s program focusing on policy analysis, planning and development in urban public education. The new partnership allows Teach for America participants to complete the program in two years instead by enrolling in one class each semester and taking a full course load during the summer.

“The program pragmatically and intellectually complements what Teach for America is doing,” said Kenneth Wong, professor of education and director of the urban education policy program. Brown’s focus on policy, coupled with the in-classroom experience gained through Teach for America, allows for a more comprehensive understanding of policy application and broadens career opportunities for participating teachers, he said.

“Brown has a lot of exposure to Teach for America and values the things our teachers bring to the classrooms,” said Heather Tow-Yick ’98, executive director of Teach for America in Rhode Island.

“The program really focuses on policy and analysis and can be applied not just on a national or state level but also to a school level,” said Brian Gould MAT’13, who is beginning the joint program this year. As a teacher currently working at one of Providence’s transformation schools — which are among the lowest-performing schools in the city — he said he hopes his participation in the joint program will help the school better understand which policies are effective and which are not, to increase student participation and achievement.

“The one thing I am really excited about is that Brown is really big about the intersection between policy and practice,” said Carina Sitkus, a Teach for America participant who was accepted into the education policy program this year. “We have a lot of firsthand experience about how policy can be applied in the classroom,” she said.

Of the nine applicants who applied to the graduate program who had already committed to Teach for America, seven were admitted to the Graduate School, and all seven have matriculated this year. Two of the seven have also been selected as Urban Education Fellows and will receive loan forgiveness from the University in exchange for committing to working in Rhode Island public schools for three years.

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