Teachers hit the books to become better in the classroom

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 11:45pm

The Teaching and Learning in Urban Schools program, a partnership between Metro Nashville Public Schools and Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education, is welcoming its inaugural class this week.

The program, which allows recent college graduates and teachers to earn a master’s degree free of charge, focuses on improving education in urban middle schools.

“What’s unique about this program is these are full-time teachers, taking course work two nights a week, but the professors of the courses will be out in the classrooms during the day with these teachers coaching and mentoring, connecting the resources from class,” said Sharon Yates, a lecturer and assistant to the chair in Vanderbilt’s teaching and learning department.

“We have good evidence now that effective teachers, well prepared teachers, can help make a difference in eliminating the achievement gap,” Yates said. “It seemed a natural collaboration since we are the No. 1 teacher education college, to bring our faculty and research to partnership with [MNPS].”

MNPS Spokeswoman Noelle Mashburn said the idea for the program began last fall with a strenuous application process conducted in the spring.

“Vanderbilt and Metro saw it as a great opportunity to give some of our promising teachers a wonderful opportunity to study with some of the best professors and educators in the country,” Mashburn said. “They wanted to pick out the very best of the best for this program.”

Students who accepted the free tuition agreed to teach in Metro schools for five years, two while enrolled in the program. The 16 students in the inaugural class will be teaching at Bailey, Litton and Wright middle schools.