DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Chicago Connections > $4.9 million grant to add hundreds of DePaul graduates to lead CPS classrooms

$4.9 million grant to add hundreds of DePaul graduates to lead CPS classrooms

Chicago Teacher Residency
(L-R): Anne Butler, Barbara Rieckhoff and Jordan Humphrey lead DePaul's partnership with the Academy for Urban School Leadership's Chicago Teacher Residency program. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)

A five-year, $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education aims to prepare more than 800 DePaul University graduates to serve as teachers in high-need Chicago Public Schools. The effort builds on an eight-year partnership between the Academy for Urban School Leadership’s Chicago Teacher Residency program and DePaul’s College of Education, which has already created a pathway for more than 300 Chicago Teacher Residency graduates to join CPS.

“The CTR program is a one-year program specifically set up to prepare individuals looking to change careers and become full-time teachers,” says Barbara Rieckhoff, an associate dean and associate professor in the College of Education. “We have students that range from their 20s to 60s who come from different professions and backgrounds, and all have the same goal: to earn credentials as teachers and work in the classroom helping low-income students. It’s an intense but highly rewarding program.”

More than half of these new teachers will be graduates of color, ready to step into classrooms and instruct low-income, pre-K-12 Chicago students. A special emphasis will also be placed on high-need, high-turnover areas CPS has identified, such as high school and middle school math and science, K-12 physical education, special education and art. Participants will receive a $21,600 stipend, which can cover tuition or go toward living expenses. The Department of Education grant supplements the stipends, with the rest of the funds being provided by AUSL.

Once enrolled, students spend four days a week in a CPS classroom while attending College of Education classes. In a year, graduates earn a master’s degree in a chosen discipline: elementary education, middle level education or pre-service special education. They also make a four-year commitment to teach at a high-need CPS school.

This grant comes along at a perfect time, as schools around the country are experiencing teacher shortages. NBCLX​ visited a CTR class at DePaul in the summer of 2022 to report on the issue. CPS is no exception, and program leaders believe the CTR program is bringing together working professionals who have a unique skill set to step foot in the classroom and handle the many challenges of being an educator.

“The ultimate goal is to prepare CTR students in a way that will help lead to higher retention numbers in these schools. We know from the data that teachers who make it past years three, four and five are more likely to stay, so it’s important to us to provide the appropriate resources, such as mentors, both at DePaul and within their placement school,” says Jordan Humphrey, the assistant dean for assessment in the College of Education.

As part of the residency model, participants in the program are paired with a veteran teacher in addition to DePaul faculty mentors. 

“The partnership and grant allow us to help prepare students so that, as they’re learning theory and strategies, they’re able to directly apply them to classrooms. The residents benefit from a veteran teacher mentor as they implement their teaching practice, with immediate feedback in the intensive one-year program,” says Anne Butler, DePaul faculty lead for CTR.

A special emphasis of the program is on recruiting and retaining teachers of color. For example, in CPS, Latino boys account for almost a quarter of all students, but Latino men only make up about 5% of Chicago’s teachers, reports Chalkbeat.

Through the first eight years of the Chicago Teacher Residency, DePaul has built a partnership with CPS to help address the highest-need teaching areas. It’s also helped place teachers into classrooms where they more closely represent the demographics of the students they’re teaching.

“The Chicago Teacher Residency program really aligns with DePaul’s Catholic, Vincentian mission and identity. It’s one way we are answering the call of ‘what must be done’,” says Humphrey.

For more information on the Chicago Teacher Residency program, head to the AUSL and College of Education​ websites.

Russell Dorn is a manager of news and integrated content in University Communications.