International Publication Highlights Dr. Jennifer Grove and the Memphis Teacher Residency Program
December 8, 2010 - The realities are daunting, and ever so heartbreaking. Native children of Memphis have grown up in the heart of the city, but have never set their eyes on the mighty power of the Mississippi, the geographical landmark for which the city is so widely known. Being reared in a home with the potential dangers of lead paint poisoning, drugs, and street crime, tonight’s dinner is not as easy to attain as it should be for many of these kids. These realities, coupled with the challenges of being raised by a single parent, provide no wonder to the certainty that many children in Memphis are in need of desperate help. This holds especially true when the culture of poverty embraces the rewards of an immediate paycheck, or even luck, over longer-term educational goals.
Many educators around the nation are starting to focus their attention on urban centers like Memphis, as positive change here can provide an optimistic outlook for the rest of the nation. Tennessee, in part due to the educational challenges of Memphis, became one of the first states to attain funds from the federal Race to the Top competitive grant program. Likewise, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has contributed $90 million to help turn Memphis into a city children deserve.
Even further, the Memphis Teacher Residency (MTR) program, in partnership with Union University, is implementing an inside out approach to educational reform. This year’s cohort of 27 residents is being prepared to teach in troubled urban schools. Specifically, this is occurring as these teachers in training are earning a master’s degree in urban education from Union University, while working alongside a mentor teacher for one year.
Assistant Dean of Education, Dr. Jennifer Grove, serves as an educational leader on Union’s Germantown, TN campus, and she has a deep commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of Memphis’ youngest residents. In a recent Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) Advance article, Grove was quoted as saying, “An urban teacher education equips teachers to teach and reach students regardless of the obstacles in their lives.” Grove’s leadership demonstrates the perspective that is needed to make a positive change in the way in which graduate education students are prepared for teaching in urban environments. As over 80 percent of the United States population currently resides in an urban location, such vision is more important now than ever before.
MTR’s grass-roots effort to reform our nation’s urban schools from the inside out demonstrates a localized, and transformative, approach to other similar trends in school reform. However, the Memphis Teacher Residency program is unique in its faith-based approach. All of MTR’s residents are Christians who view their work as an opportunity to help the downtrodden defeat socioeconomic challenges. Their commitment to three years of service as teachers in Memphis will enable disadvantage students the opportunity to learn from quality teachers, a resource that is not often available to kids in poverty-stricken areas.To learn more about the way in which Union University and the Memphis Teacher Residency program are collaborating to make a difference in Memphis, readers are encouraged to read the recent CCCU article, Bringing Justice to Urban Education in the Fall 2010 edition of CCCU Advance. Among others, the article shares the voices of Union’s Assistant Dean of Education, Dr. Jennifer Grove, and MTR’s director, Dr. David Montague.
Related Web Resource: http://issuu.com/cccu/docs/cccu_advance_fall_2010