Supporting the Schools

June 1, 2006
Give them an inch, they'll go a mile: teachers at Forest View Elementary in Durham work closely with their students

Give them an inch, they'll go a mile: teachers at Forest View Elementary in Durham work closely with their students. Charlotte Claypoole

President Richard H. Brodhead and Durham Public Schools Superintendent Ann T. Denlinger announced in February that Duke and the school system are expanding their longstanding partnership with three new initiatives designed to significantly boost support for classroom teachers.

Over the next three years, the university will contribute $925,000 to assist the Durham Public Schools (DPS) by providing scholarships to Duke graduate students who pursue advanced teaching degrees, increasing fluency in Spanish among teachers and staff members, and helping retain new teachers. The programs are expected to provide direct support for as many as 200 DPS teachers who work with approximately 6,000 students.

The new initiatives are:

- The Durham Teaching Fellows program: The university will provide full tuition and stipend support for the next three years for twenty-four teachers (eight per year) who pursue master-of-arts-in-teaching degrees at Duke. In exchange, teachers would agree to commit at least two years to teaching core subjects in DPS high schools.

Give them an inch, they'll go a mile: teachers at Forest View Elementary in Durham work closely with their students

Give them an inch, they'll go a mile: teachers at Forest View Elementary in Durham work closely with their students. Charlotte Claypoole

- The Spanish Language Leap program: Each August for the next three years, faculty members from Duke's department of Romance studies will provide an intensive three-day training workshop in conversational Spanish for thirty staff and faculty members in four schools near campus that have large Hispanic populations. These schools are part of the existing Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, which works to improve the quality of life in the twelve neighborhoods closest to campus and to boost student achievement and teacher effectiveness in seven partner public schools that are located in or serve those neighborhoods.The training will continue throughout the school year during weekly after-school training sessions. Teachers will have access to Duke's online language instruction and language lab and will have the opportunity to participate in a weeklong immersion experience in Mexico.

- A bolstered teacher retention effort: Duke's Center for Teacher Learning and Collaboration will provide mentoring support for more than ninety DPS teachers (thirty per year) who have taught between three and seven years. The teachers will participate in a two-day residential workshop focused on personal renewal, professional growth, and teacher empowerment. The workshop will be followed by one year of follow-up sessions. The program will also give teachers a "jump start" on the National Board Certification process.Nationally, the attrition rate for new teachers is nearly 50 percent. In their first three years of teaching, approximately 42 percent of initially licensed teachers leave DPS, slightly higher than the average statewide attrition for new teachers. Last year, Duke pledged $300,000 over three years through a grant from The Duke Endowment to support the New Teacher Center, which pairs some thirty seasoned teachers, each of whom serves as a mentor to about fifteen first- and second-year teachers.