University of West Alabama program trains teachers to work in rural schools

Training for teachers

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The University of West Alabama will use a multi-million dollar grant to train more teachers to work in schools in rural areas.

One of the places where that could make help is Tuscaloosa County. That grant comes from the U.S. Department of Education. U-W-A will use it to create a program to train dozens of teachers in a teacher residency program where their skills can be put to use. Some of the teachers who complete the U-W-A’s teacher residency program will work in places like the Tuscaloosa County School system.

“Our plan is to get 60 teachers that will be placed in rural Alabama at the end of the 5-year period,” according to Jane Miller, Dean of U-W-A’s College of Education.

The school will combine that $6.5 million grant with other money for a $13 million fund to support this five-year program. It will establish a 14-month plan for people who are ready for a second career to become teachers in training.

"A lot of times, teachers are hired under an employment certificate, but they’re just not quite prepared. And so, this teacher residency program we can give them that living wage stipend, but give them all the experience they need in the classroom,” explained Sara Reynolds, clinical coordinator for U-W-A.

Trainees will go into U-W-A’s alternative aid program that leads to a masters degree in education. Miller said in traditional programs, people are usually in them for a semester. This program is longer and more intensive.

“These residents will be in the program for 14 months beginning in the summer so that they do something when they’re there when school begins, all the way until school ends in May. So it’s a full year of in the classroom, boots on the ground, doing that activity day to day,” Miller continued.

The Tuscaloosa County, Mobile County school systems, and the Charter School in Livingston were chosen as partners with the University of West Alabama for the program because opportunity zones exist in those communities and many U-W-A students come from those areas.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.