Rowan Develops Male Teachers With IMPACT

As this spring’s graduates march across stages and celebrate their newly earned teaching licenses, 14 students in the College of Education at Rowan University (NJ) still have a few years of work before heading to their first teaching jobs. But as participants in Rowan’s Project Increasing Male Practitioners and Classroom Teachers (Project IMPACT), they are well on their way to not only graduating but also remedying the persistent shortage of male teachers of color.

Majoring in education fields from early childhood to music, math, science, and more, these young men from the South Jersey area receive an annual $4,000 scholarship, mentoring and study supports, and hands-on experiences in schools in exchange for their commitment to return as teachers for at least 3 years in high-need public schools. The program is designed to equip candidates with the skills and supports to persist in their high-attrition field while effectively enhancing student learning.

“Project IMPACT is our earnest attempt at preparing culturally responsive diverse educators for all learners,” said College of Education Dean Monika Williams Shealey. “The research is clear that the most important variable in addressing persistent problems such as the achievement gap and disproportionate representation in special education is teacher effectiveness. Yes, there are broader systemic issues that contribute to the teaching and learning context. Our college is committed to attending to those issues as well.”

Last fall, the inaugural cohort of 14 future teachers participated in an induction and tie-tying ceremony with guests including their family members, community educators, and the Rowan Men of Color Mentor Network. This network includes superintendents, principals, and teachers across the region who have pledged to support the students’ professional and socio-emotional development. Members of IMPACT have also been participating in Rowan’s Praxis Lab to prepare them for required entry exams.

“IMPACT is a program tailored to fit Rowan University’s goals: access, affordability, quality, and serving as an economic engine for the community and a commitment to excellence in education and innovation,” said Charles Barnes II, a Rowan doctoral student and the university’s liaison to IMPACT and the mentor network. “This program is supported through collaborative efforts between the College of Education and the Divisions of Student Life and Strategic Enrollment Management. This collaboration ensures sustainability of the project through the university, rather than outside partners.”

In sessions at the 2017 AACTE Annual Meeting, Dean Shealey and IMPACT partners discussed their program’s foundations of collaborative mentorship and an anti-deficit perspective to overcoming opportunity gaps. Barnes also joined several IMPACT students and representatives from the Men of Color Mentor Network in March to present a panel discussion “Endangered Species: Mentoring Men of Color Into the Field of Education” at the Dream Deferred Conference in Washington, DC. Barnes said data and participant feedback from the first year are featured in a session proposal being submitted for next year’s AACTE Annual Meeting.

Now it’s nearly time to prepare the neckties for the next round of students, recruited throughout the past semester at local high schools. This fall, Rowan will welcome 14 new students as IMPACT candidates as the first cohort of students advances into their second year of the program.

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