Teach Tomorrow Celebrates New Teachers

By Post Staff

From left to right: Michael Williams, Kemet Bender, Constance Cobb-Zunino, Diane Johnson, Irene Cho, David Orona, Daniel Villarreal, Roderick Patterson. Photo by Stephen Brooks, Jr.

They are teachers in training – part of Teach Tomorrow Oakland – and in so many ways they are outstanding. They are from Oakland, and they understand Oakland. In a profession where so many people have become cynical, they are not. They care about teaching, and they go the extra mile for their fellow teacher trainees.   They don’t give up on their students, they love their students. And they are honored and grateful for having discovered the nurturing support of TTO. TTO Director Rachelle Rogers-Ard says 93 percent of Oakland students are kids of color, and they need more teachers who look like them and live in the same neighborhoods. TTO, a project created by the school district and the office of former Mayor Ron Dellums, has prepared three cohorts of such teachers, and they have a 92 percent retention rate. A new cohort of 60 teacher trainees is set to begin teaching in the fall. The program has higher “standards” than most teacher preparation programs.  The candidates are interviewed by a team that includes students and professional educators.  They have to demonstrate a lesson, before they are even admitted. They also have to sign a commitment to work in the district for five years.  (The average teacher leaves after 3 years). They have to take special workshops during the summer and do extra professional training. Funded by federal grants, TTO is a not a substitute for a university-based teaching credential program. Those who want to teach still must earn a credential. What TTO does is help those who want to teach find a position as an intern teacher and provides those who need tutors with help to pass the CBEST and CSET exams. To do its recruiting, TTO reaches out more broadly to more diverse communities than many traditional teacher programs. Once interns begin, TTO gives them the kind of professional and  nurturing support to help them be successful. Organized in cohorts, the interns become a kind of family, which helps them through  the rough parts. For more information on Teach Tomorrow Oakland, call (510) 273-2339.
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