Newark Program Creating A Pipeline For Students To Become Teachers

Feb 27, 2019

Newark Public Schools are searching for creative ways to train educators and retain them.
Credit Ang Santos / WBGO

Newark Public Schools has plans to launch a new curriculum that will prepare students for a career in teaching.

Superintendent Roger Leon says The Teachers Academy is partnering with two respected institutions to help their plans unfold.

“Montclair State University will be the higher education partner, and the American Federation of Teachers will be the professional organization partnering.”

Aspiring student teachers will pair up with professional educators that offer support.  The High Schoolers gain experience teaching elementary grade classes.  

Randi Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers.  She says Newark’s Academy Initiative will work towards diversifying the work force.

“We must be part of broader communities, but that starts with understanding all of our communities and deeply respecting all of our communities which means we need to have a whole lot more teachers who are men and a whole lot more teachers of color. It starts here and it starts now.”

Superintendent Leon says the work ahead is easier said than done.  So, incentives are in place for students that decide to chart a course towards teaching.

“Any student teacher that actually begins their studies here in our school system, we will offer them a contract.  So that when they graduate from college and meet all of the conditions necessary to accept the job, then they automatically don’t have to look for any other job in any other school district.”

But retaining those teachers will likely remain an issue, says Newark Teachers Union President John Abeigon.

“We say that you have to put your money where your mouth is.  If you want to attract these young minds and have them going into education. Then you better be competitive with what’s being offered out there in the private sector.”

Still, some Newark high school students like Sophomore Brian Nunez look forward to enrolling in The Teachers Academy.

“I love it, it’s a really good idea for everybody including myself to have the opportunity to be in tenth grade and be doing this as well.  Especially for me, I still have two years to get myself together and with stuff I’m starting for the school, this is a perfect path for me to go walking on.”