NCTR is excited to partner with the second cohort of aspiring residencies supported through our U.S. Department of Education Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant. Our New Site Development Program (NSDP) team is working with four residency programs in this cohort: Nashville Teacher Residency, McCormick County Teacher Residency (South Carolina), Metro Nashville Urban Teacher Residency, and the Norman C. Francis Teacher Residency/New Schools for New Orleans. Cohort Two partners received funding to launch and grow their programs through NCTR’s two-year NSDP consulting curriculum, which will establish the core components of the residency model. Our goal is to share the drivers, influences and goals of a residency program early in its start-up phase.

This is the second installment of a four part profile series on each of our four new SEED partners. We interviewed Maggie Runyan-Shefa, the Co-CEO of New Schools for New Orleans, a founding partner of the Norman C. Francis Teacher Residency.

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… I see the future of this program in every high school…Our high schools are graduating African-American students and other students of color in record numbers. If we, through the residency model, can make the teaching profession more accessible, then more and more of our high school students have a pathway into teaching as they matriculate from high school to college.”

— Maggie Runyan-Shefa

How does New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) support teacher preparation?

NSNO invests in the creation and expansion of excellent charter schools in New Orleans, and works to ensure those schools have resources to constantly improve. An essential ingredient in this improvement is continual access to excellent educators. Today, New Orleans is facing a looming shortage of effective educators, so investing in quality teacher preparation is incredibly important.

How did you find out about NCTR’s SEED grant? 

We’ve been sold on the efficacy of the teacher residency model for a while. We are in partnership with the Relay Graduate School of Education (Relay GSE) and have helped fund their residency program in New Orleans in order to increase the pipeline of effective educators in the city. We learned about NCTR through our work with Relay, and reached out to your organization to get information on your residency development programming. Around the same time, the Louisiana Department of Education learned about NCTR’s work as well. The Department had already developed a ‘friendly policy’ toward residencies, but since that time the state has changed its laws to mandate one-year residencies for all aspiring teachers.

What inspired you to apply to become a SEED grant partner?

We were drawn to the idea of partnering with NCTR because of your track record for supporting the launch of effective residency programs, the expertise and knowledge your consulting teams bring to early launch conversations, and of course, your network of partners. NCTR’s Network gave us an immediate sense of comfort. We feel much more secure working amongst a community of high-performing residencies than we would if we tried to do this alone. We believed, after getting a sense of what works from tracking the challenges and success of the Relay program, NCTR would help us avoid early start-up and launch pitfalls from the beginning.

What are you excited about building upon in your district? What challenges do you face in your work and/or community, and how do you predict your partnership with NCTR through SEED will support your work?

In New Orleans, we are nervous about the potential teacher shortage. We would love to continue to produce teachers for our schools that are effective and want to remain in the city. Since the New Orleans school system is decentralized, the residency model has helped us bring together local, community-focused stakeholders that are eager to talk about, and work together on, building out quality teacher preparation across the city. Our partnership with Xavier University, who is very committed to transforming education in New Orleans, is also hugely important to us. Knowing we had a higher education partner in this work that focused on outcomes and understood the residency model really excited us. Xavier is forward thinking; they can be a model of progressive teacher preparation for other communities.

What are we worried about? Well, scale. In a decentralized system there is always a challenge scaling programs when schools have more autonomy and are not required to adopt uniform changes. We are asking ourselves, “How does this become sustainable when it comes to policy, to creating programmatic solutions, to working with undergrads and covering tuition?” We have lots of ideas but scaling may mean taking on other university partners. Xavier may be a training partner, but other universities may confer degrees on our residents. We are thinking through a lot of possibilities.

We are also worried about recruitment. t is well-known that fewer and fewer people are going into teaching nationally. We are grateful to partner with a Historically Black University; Xavier is the #1 producer of African-American medical school students in the country. It is known for recruiting high quality candidates to its medical and pharmacy programs. It has a deep history in sciences and math. For us, partnering with Xavier creates opportunities for our future residents to receive excellent content knowledge, and it also increases our pool of teachers of color. Though the Norman C. Francis Teacher Residency may not lean toward a STEM-focused model, we want to create a program that candidates will be excited to join.

What attracted you/your district to the residency model?

Prior to Katrina, teachers were the economic backbone of the Black middle class in New Orleans. Many educators left and never returned to New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, and currently only 50 percent of teachers in the city are Black. Though this is a higher percentage than in many major cities, it is lower than a decade ago by 20 percent. The current teaching force does not reflect the predominantly Black student population that it serves. So we are focused on how we can be intentional about recruiting teacher candidates of color that have roots in Louisiana. We believe that Xavier will attract a lot of Louisiana-based candidates into the education pipeline.

In addition to building out the residency model, we are doubling down on our efforts to recruit high quality candidates of color through our partnerships with TFA and Teach NOLA (a product of TNTP) – and all of us are thinking a lot about how to increase the number of teachers of color. It is important for our students to see teachers that they can identify with, so we have high hopes that launching our residency will bring teachers of color back to our classrooms.

What partners do you have in your community that will support you as you work toward accomplishing your residency goals? 

In addition to our partnership with Xavier University, we are working with four charter management organizations (CMOs) – Inspire NOLA Schools, KIPP NOLA, First Line Schools, and NOLA College Prep Schools. These essential charter partners serve mostly low-income students and students of color. The schools will help inform resident preparation.

New Schools for New Orleans has also partnered with Relay GSE, which is going into Year Three of its program. They have launched teacher residencies with four CMOs, and three of them are Xavier partners. After speaking with our friends at Relay, we now understand the pain points that will help us launch this program as well.

What are the 2-3 things you hope to accomplish in Year One of our SEED grant partnership?

We want to recruit 25 residents in Year One.

We want to attract community-wide excitement around this important new pathway to teaching — one that is focused both on New Orleans schools and attracting teacher candidates with roots in the community.

We want to build a successful partnership between CMOs and Xavier. We want Xavier to feel like it can lead the pedagogy and content knowledge training of residents, and want our CMO partners to feel they have influence in the specific training residents receive so they can meet the needs of the students and communities they serve.