Last year, Susan Taylor ′82, director of the Newark-Montclair Urban Teacher Residency Program (NMUTR) at Montclair State University, retired after 37 years as a teacher and principal in the Newark public school system. At the time, she had plans to pursue her studies as a student in the University's Ed.D. in Teacher Education and Teacher Development program. But those retirement plans were put on hold when Taylor received an offer from Dean Ada Beth Cutler of the College of Education and Human Services and Executive Director Jennifer Robinson of the College's Center of Pedagogy to direct the NMUTR program. Taylor, who holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Montclair State, has worked in close collaboration with the University on a number of projects and initiatives over the years. She says, “I felt that taking the position would be a great segueway from my career, and I knew that I could be a strong bridge between the Newark school district and the University.”
A Newark native, Taylor always knew she wanted to teach─and always knew she would teach in Newark. Taylor had the Newark school system in her DNA─her mother was a school nurse in the system for 28 years, and her older brother was also a successful teacher. “I have always had a deep connection and care for the Newark school system,” she said. Taylor’s first teaching job was a first grade class of 15 children in Newark. She would later meet some of her former first grade students when they brought their own children to their “first day of school” at Newark’s Franklin Elementary School, where Taylor was principal for 14 years. Franklin Elementary has experienced positive transformations, and won several awards under Taylor’s leadership.
The NMUTR program is an innovative apprenticeship-based program of study for individuals with a deep commitment to urban teaching. Two years ago, Montclair State University was one of 28 schools across the country to receive a multi-million dollar grant from the federal government for the five-year urban teaching program. On June 26, twelve students will graduate from the program, including several alumni of Montclair State University. The program has two tracks: P-3/K-5 certification with a dual certification in Teacher of Students with Disabilities; and secondary, content area certification in mathematics or science.
“For more than three decades, Montclair State’s College of Education has been a partner, ever-present supporter, and ally of the Newark School District,” says Taylor. Building on this collaboration, the Newark Public Schools and Montclair State University seek to improve student achievement by combining rigorous research-based teacher preparation with the concrete needs and realities of the Newark Public Schools. “Everything we do as a part of the residency program has to be about student achievement and learning; while simultaneously renewing and identifying classroom teachers in Newark schools," Taylor states.
Beyond Student Teaching
Residents for the program are selected in a highly competitive admissions process. They participate in full-time, paid clinical apprenticeships with highly-qualified mentor teachers already teaching in the Newark Public Schools. The residents also engage in rigorous coursework (which is shaped for the needs of the particular site), learn about the City of Newark, and will intern with community organizations during the summer months. The residency program can be equated to a medical residency.
“This program goes beyond student teaching,” Taylor says. “Residents are in the classroom on the first day of the program, and spend 99% of their time in the program as co-teachers in the classroom,” she explains. “Montclair State faculty are accessible on site, and embed and infuse coursework into the classroom experience.”
The NMUTR program also provides extensive funding for professional development for current Newark Public Schools teachers and for induction support for all new Newark teachers. Thus, the ultimate goal of the grant is to provide learning and support along the entire continuum of teacher development.
With Susan Taylor at the helm, drawing on her years of experience in teaching and administration in the Newark school system, and being the bridge between the University and the system, this program will be “making the difference” in the lives of everyone involved.
“There is a lot of misconception, and wrong
perceptions about teaching in an urban district,” says Taylor. “Through the
residency, people have an opportunity to take a risk, possibly make a career
change, and become a part of a dynamic, exciting, and transformed experience for
everyone involved. For as much as you come to give, you will get more back,” she adds.
For more information about the NMUTR program, please contact Susan Taylor at 973-655-6687 or email NMUTRP@mail.montclair.edu.