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Union urban education partnership marks important milestone

MEMPHISJuly 21, 2014 – Union University’s partnership with the Memphis Teacher Residency program begins its sixth year with approximately 70 new students, more than doubling the number of residents since the first year the degree was offered.

The MTR program allows students to earn a master’s degree in urban education in one calendar year in exchange for a commitment to teach at least three years in the Memphis City Schools. Hundreds of hopefuls from all over the country now apply for 70 positions in the program. In its first year, 24 students were accepted from fewer than 100 applications.

“I believe the program has gotten more popular because the need for teachers in the urban environment has grown so much, and God is calling students to minister to these children,” said Debra Martin, Union’s Master of Urban Education program coordinator.

“I have every confidence the program will continue to grow as long as the need is there and Memphis Teacher Residency continues to provide these students with a stellar education from Union University,” Martin said.

After going to school and interning full-time for a year, program participants receive a Master of Urban Education degree from Union.

“It is rigorous admissions process and program,” Executive Dean Tom Rosebrough said. “And, the results have been outstanding by any measure. Kudos to Dr. Robin Henderson, program director, to her staff, and to our School of Education faculty. We know we are making a difference in Memphis.”

A Memphis foundation pays for the students’ schooling and housing through MTR. The students live in apartments located near the schools where they work.

Union University is the academic partner of Memphis Teacher Residency. Other partners include the Tennessee Department of Education, Choose 901 and AmeriCorps.

A new cohort begins the program every June, and the students graduate with a Master of Urban Education the following May. After graduation, they are assigned to an inner city school where they will teach.

The program had its founding when David Montague, president of MTR, approached Rosebrough in 2008 with a broad vision for impacting through Christian education what some have called the “civil rights issue of our times—urban education.”

The two men worked out a partnership which would be based on Union University’s experience with intensive graduate education models. MTR and Union’s School of Education discovered that they shared the same passion: finding the best teachers who are called to Christian service. The first cohort began June 2009.

“David Montague is the one who gave the vision its shape in urban Memphis schools,” Rosebrough said.

Graduates commit to the three years of teaching in inner city schools that include Sherwood Elementary, Kingsbury Middle and East High School.

After the three years many of the teachers decide to stay in these schools instead of returning to their various home states around the country.

“It’s just very, very rewarding for them, and it’s definitely a calling that they have,” Martin said. “Most of them choose to stay.”

Martin encourages students interested in teaching in urban schools to apply and enjoy the unique advantages of Union’s program.

“They begin the internship right after summer classes. The program is only one year where many other licensure programs are twice that long. Plus, their schooling is paid for by MTR,” Martin said. “Therefore, only the top students are selected.”

To apply for Union’s Memphis Teacher Residency program, please visit memphistr.org.

By Julie Turner

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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