Thompson Elementary School students are hard at work during a visit from participants in the Texas A&M U-STAR program. Standing are Dr. Marlon James, from left, co-director of the Collaborative for Advancing Urban School Excellence, Dr. Robert Long, Thompson principal, Emily Jenigan, Rayshanda Massey and Courtney Hamlyn, Texas A&M education students.
HOUSTON – June 8, 2016 – A new partnership between Texas A&M University and the Spring Independent School District will bring college students to classrooms at Thompson Elementary School this fall. One of a few in the country, the Urban Student Teacher Advanced Residency (U-STAR) program is a yearlong clinical teaching experience that will immerse senior-level students studying education directly in the district’s classrooms.
“We’ve seen that many of our teachers need additional support with educating the urban learner, including understanding various cultural backgrounds, building relationships and differentiating teaching models,” said Spring ISD Superintendent Dr. Rodney Watson. “A partnership like this not only allows us to groom future teachers for opportunities in urban school settings like Spring ISD, but it allows us to do so with the support of one of the strongest educational programs in the nation.”
Thompson Elementary was selected as the host for the pilot program and will welcome four U-STAR students this fall who will work directly beside classroom teachers to plan and deliver academic content. The participating student teachers will spend four days on campus and return to the Texas A&M campus just one day per week to finalize coursework. They will also participate in new teacher orientation, professional development and community programs.
According to Thompson Principal Dr. Robert Long, this program is the perfect opportunity for future educators to have direct exposure to the district’s culture while receiving hands-on practical learning.
“The ultimate end goal for us is to have these students work in conjunction with our staff, learn the Spring way, and then come aboard with Spring to join our workforce and become part of our family as fully-certified teachers upon their graduation,” said Long.
Recruitment and retention of high quality teachers is a priority outlined in the district’s strategic plan. Students participating in U-STAR will also be at the front of the line when they are ready to apply for full-time teaching positions. As part of the U-STAR program, Spring ISD administrators and faculty at Texas A&M will continue to provide professional development during the first year of teaching.
U-STAR was created in conjunction with Texas A&M University’s College of Education and Human Development. Spring ISD is the first school district to partner with the university in the program that is designed to address a noted national challenge – preparing teachers to transition into and thrive within urban schools.