Why a local university is investing in a new teacher residency program to fill a pressing need in Detroit and Dearborn schools

A new teacher residency program will train 36 experts in math and science to teach in Detroit and Dearborn, where two of the state’s largest urban districts are located.

The Wayne State University program, called Metro Detroit Teaching Residency for Urban Excellence, is a $2.5 million project with an important goal: increasing the number of science, technology, engineering, and math teachers.

It comes during a time when many Michigan schools, particularly those in Detroit, struggle to hire qualified teachers in math and science. 

The program “has the potential to help us fill openings in science and math classrooms with a diverse pool of teachers who are invested in improving outcomes for the students of Detroit,” Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District, said in a statement.

The program also comes at a time of increased interest in teacher residency programs, which combine teacher training with intensive and lengthy classroom internships, similar to the way doctors are trained. It’s one of the features of a unique “cradle to careers” program recently launched on the campus of the now-closed Marygrove College.

The Wayne State program begins with an 18-month period in which the students will receive a $40,000 stipend, complete a master’s degree, and receive a teaching certificate. Following that, for two years teachers would receive mentoring and professional development while teaching.  

Those accepted for the program would have to commit to teaching at least three years in the Detroit or Dearborn school districts.

The project will target recent college graduates and midcareer professionals in the region with expertise in science, technology, engineering and math. Especially valuable will be those with experience in automotive and technology industries who’ve been affected by recent and planned plant closures.

Having qualified teachers in these subjects “is vital to the development of our nation’s and region’s workforce,” Keith Whitfield, the provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Wayne State, said in a statement.

The university received $1.1 million through a federal grant. The university will kick in the remaining $1.4 million.