Mount Holyoke College and Holyoke Public Schools have launched the Urban Teachers Pathways Program, a new initiative that allows ten district educators the opportunity to pursue master’s degrees at the College while they continue to work.
The goal of the program is to improve educational outcomes for students by increasing staff retention and enhancing the qualifications of Holyoke Public Schools educators, who will earn their master of arts in teaching (MAT) degrees at minimal cost through Mount Holyoke.
The Urban Teacher Pathways program provides an opportunity for teacher candidates to participate in a full range of teaching and learning courses taught by College faculty and current Holyoke teachers. The courses are taught at the College or at a local Holyoke public school through Mount Holyoke’s Professional and Graduate Education (PaGE) division and its Master of Arts (MAT) in Teaching program. Each practicum is carried out in the candidate’s classroom with a supervising practitioner.
“The MAT program is committed to working with partner schools to prepare educators to meet the needs of their individual communities,” said Beverley Bell, the program director at Mount Holyoke. “The dual licensure program responds to a need in Holyoke for general education teachers to be better prepared to teach a full range of students in their classrooms as well as teachers who are qualified to teach students with moderate disabilities. It is this type of collaboration that is the hallmark of the PaGE programs.”
Program applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, be nominated by a supervisor and have successfully completed the Communications and Literacy Massachusetts Test for Education Licensure examination. The courses are closely linked to the practical classroom experience and current research on best teaching practices.
After completing classes this spring, degree candidates during the summer will explore how technology can enhance the classroom experience for students, the underlying tenants of expeditionary learning, and the power of interdisciplinary curriculum design. They will complete a series of courses to pursue an initial license in the general education classroom as well as a moderate disabilities license, a benefit that makes this particular program unusual.
"This program provides the opportunity for educators from the district to complete a graduate program for minimal cost while they continue to contribute to the district," said Stephen Zrike Jr., receiver of the Holyoke Public Schools. “Those in this program will enhance their skills in design instruction that is academically challenging, culturally relevant, and addresses the social and emotional needs of our students.
“We are grateful to Mount Holyoke College for this opportunity. We have had a longtime partnership that includes community-based learning initiatives, to share resources and address community needs,” he said.