Blue Engine Launches this Week — a New Corps for NYC Schools

This week a new national service corps launches its website and application process. Blue Engine, based in New York City, aims to recruit a corps of about a dozen fellows to facilitate daily, differentiated, small-group instruction for high school freshmen.

Nick Ehrmann—Blue Engine’s engine and a Teach For America alum—says that we know how to get high-needs kids into college, or getting them “college eligible” — nonprofits and schools have been targeting and tackling hurdles like high school completion, college admissions, and financial assistance.

But, while the high school drop-out problem is far from solved, groups are paying far less attention to college completion rates for high-needs kids, or “college readiness.”

Blue Engine aims to close the gap between college eligibility and college readiness. Watch the video that explains:

A startling statistic: for every 100 kids from low-income families who make it into college, only 15 end up graduating Continue reading

Teachers College Announces a New Teacher Residency Program

Teachers College at Columbia University is launching a new program to help people earn an affordable master’s degree while apprenticing with experienced teachers in high-needs New York City classrooms.

Funded through a new U.S. Department of Education initiative to bring teacher education into the 21st century, the Teaching Residents at Teachers College (TR@TC) program is a 14-month graduate-level program.

Modeled after a medical residency, the new teaching residency at TC gives teaching students, or “residents,” the chance to implement ideas in a classroom setting, while receiving feedback and support from expert practitioners. Residents are simultaneously taking graduate level classes.

While other teaching residency programs also focus on bringing highly qualified, diverse people into the classroom as Continue reading

Site Visit: San Miguel School Gary Comer Campus in Chicago

Comer Staff greeting students as they enter the building

Comer Staff greeting students as they enter the building

Jim Conti contributed this post — a visit to a site where  Inner City Teaching Corps (ICTC) of Chicago’s Volunteer Teaching Corps (VTC) members serve. Jim is the program’s Recruiting Coordinator and Associate Director.

For 18 years, the Inner-City Teaching Corps has placed highly excited and motivated recent college graduates in high-need, urban schools.  Though some schools have been partners for many years, the Inner-City Teaching Corps’s Volunteer Teaching Corps also searches out new placements for volunteer teachers.  One such partnership was established in 2007 and has had members of the Volunteer Teaching Corps ever since.  The character, identity, and make-up of the school are specific to this one placement, but the message and sense of hope are transferable to all other school placements.

San Miguel School – Gary Comer Campus is located on Chicago’s West-side, specifically within the Austin neighborhood.  The school and community are almost entirely African-American, with a small percentage of students and residents coming from a Hispanic background.  The neighborhood lies to the West of the Garfield Park and Humboldt Park neighborhoods, and to the East of Chicago’s first Western suburb, Oak Park.  For several years now, residents have been facing the loss of affordable housing as the surrounding neighborhoods continue to be re-gentrified and the identity of this proud neighborhood is transformed. Continue reading

New Jersey Nonprofit Leader: Heather Calverase, Teach For America

Posted as part of Nonprofit Career Month, featuring the diversity of career opportunities in the nonprofit sector. Listen to more shows in this series.

Today’s guest is Heather Calverase, Executive Director of Teach For America’s Newark, New Jersey region where she is responsible for growing sustainable base of financial, community, and district awareness and support including cultivating and stewarding donations, building strong ties with local school districts, and recruiting corps members.

Prior to her position with Teach For America, Heather worked in the business sector, including nearly a decade with Kaplan, best known for its test preparation books and classes.

Amy Potthast chats with Heather about what is appealing about what Heather brings to the nonprofit sector from her business sector experience, as well as her background on educational issues.

Podcast transcript coming soon.

Inner City Teaching Corps Volunteer Teachers Gear Up for the New School Year in Chicago

Brittorf (left) and Tiffany Watson are teachers with the Inner City Teaching Corps of Chicago

Pat Bittorf (left) and Tiffany Watson are teachers with the Inner City Teaching Corps of Chicago

Jim Conti contributed this post — an interview with two teachers in the Inner City Teaching Corps (ICTC) of Chicago‘s Volunteer Teaching Corps (VTC). Jim is the program’s Recruiting Coordinator and Associate Director.

It’s that time of year again! Retailers have penny sales on notebooks, pencils, and scissors. School buses are being swept out and shined up. The collective groan of school-age children can be heard across the country as the 2009-2010 school year starts up. As students dread the end of summer, teachers are gearing up for what promises to be a new and exciting year.

Tiffany Watson and Pat Bittorf, members of the Inner-City Teaching Corps’s Volunteer Teaching Corps, are no exceptions. Having graduated from the University of Scranton and Boston College respectively, Tiffany and Pat arrived in Chicago in early June to move into their community on Chicago’s south side.

After completing an intensive summer institute, they both stepped foot in St. Malachy Elementary School to face their new classrooms for the first time. Tiffany is teaching a self-contained second grade class while Pat has a sixth grade homeroom, where he teaches Reading and Religion, as well as instructing sixth through eighth grade Language Arts.

In the midst of classroom setup and the first few days of school, we sat down with these two new teachers to talk about where they are coming from, what’s going on now, and what might be in their future.

Jim: Good morning! Let’s start with something broad. What brought you to the classroom? Continue reading