Teach Tomorrow Oakland Seeks Dedicated Homegrown Teachers

Teach Tomorrow Oakland Director Rachelle Rogers-Ard explains the program to people considering entering the teaching profession. Photo by Ken Epstein.

By Post Staff “People are going to say ‘I didn’t think it would be this hard’. (But) teaching is a practice.  You’re going to have to work, and you’re going to have work really, really hard.” It was a Tuesday evening recruitment session, and more than 20 prospective teachers were listening to Dr. Rachelle Rogers-Ard, director of Teach Tomorrow Oakland (TT0), as she talked to them about joining what she called one of the most exciting and difficult professions in the country. “We’re going to try to give you as much help as possible.  We’re going to help remove the obstacles to teaching. We´ll pay for costs of teacher tests and help you pass them,” said Rogers-Ard, who is recruiting for the fifth cohort of Oakland home grown teacher interns, set to begin training over the summer and take over classrooms next fall. In exchange for the support and training, she said, “We’re asking for a five year commitment, more than any other internship in the country, because Oakland students deserve teachers who are not passing through, who are willing to stay long enough to become excellent teachers.” According to Rogers-Ard, 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 is a project created by the Oakland Unified School District and the office of former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. The program has higher “standards” than most teacher preparation programs. The candidates are interviewed by a team that includes Oakland students, Oakland community members and professional educators.  The applicants have to demonstrate a lesson in front of Oakland students before they are even admitted to a cohort. Funded by the Transition to Teaching federal grant program, 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 provide 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.  Also, unlike other traditional recruiting programs, TTO works with community members for at least six months prior to placement to help pass teacher tests, enroll in credential programs, and remove other barriers to becoming an educator. Once interns begin, TTO gives them professional and nurturing support to help them be successful. Organized in cohorts, the interns become a kind of family, which helps them through the inevitable rough times. Teach Tomorrow has two upcoming recruitment sessions, Thursday, Jan. 10, and Thursday, Jan. 24, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Room 116 at McClymonds High School, 2607 Myrtle St. in Oakland. To register or for more information go to www.teachtomorrowinoakland.net or call (510) 273-2339.
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