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LaToya Tahirou
IPS Parent and Stand Volunteer

As a mother of three beautiful children, I am here to discuss the importance of teacher residencies to develop better teachers and improve the quality of education for our children.

Before teachers ever get to the classroom, their growth and development should be a priority. We need to ensure that they are prepared for the challenges of managing a classroom of children on day one.

I would like to thank the legislature for creating the residency pilot program that was part of our state ESSA plan, and having the foresight to recognize that we need programs like this to succeed.

Teacher residencies will effectively increase our educator’s skills, methods and most importantly mindsets for teaching some of our most challenging students. Students who come from a variety of different backgrounds and face sometimes heartbreaking obstacles.

IndyStar.com article: Programs that support new teachers could improve retention, save money

For these reasons, I am asking legislators that these residency programs be sufficiently funded by the state.

Turnover is a huge problem within some of our IPS communities. Teachers who are well prepared for the challenges of teaching in a highly difficult environment will be more likely to stay on board and continue teaching children who need exceptional educators the most.

In 5th grade my daughter La’Mya had three different teachers. In 6th grade she lost another teacher. This year already at the same school they have lost at least three teachers in this current school year. She doesn’t attend this particular school anymore but my four-year-old son LaBron is in preschool and my five-year-old daughter Layla is in kindergarten there still. Layla’s teacher is one of those who is no longer at the school. So what started with my now thirteen-year-old 7th grader is now continuing with my five-year-old kindergartener. While I do not know all of the circumstances behind all of the changes in staff and do not place blame on any particular person or the school, the fact is that this rotation of teachers does not benefit my children’s educational outcomes.

I have witnessed first-hand our struggling IPS educational system, where too many children are being failed by the system. And this has occurred for way too long. But I also see great strides and efforts being made to improve our public schools.

Teacher-residency programs are a vital component towards the success of our students. Children whom are denied quality education are more likely to live lives full of poverty and crime just to name a few possible outcomes. But first-class quality educational opportunities open up limitless possibilities in the lives of these same children.

Teacher-residency programs places teachers with the best intentions in classrooms that will give them crucial real-life experience and confidence. They prepare them to commit to our students and be better qualified in handling a challenging learning environment. They reduce the chances of a new teacher becoming overwhelmed and blindsided and giving up. It could also give an individual the option of realizing, hey, this isn’t for me earlier rather than later.

One great teacher can impact your life forever. Margo Hopson was a teacher I had in 1st grade and again in 3rd grade. She truly made a lifelong impression on me. She made a difference in her student’s lives. She once paid for me to go on a school camping trip in which I otherwise would’ve not been able to attend. Her experience allowed her to relate to and understand her students. She had a loving nurturing spirit but also the tough skin to hold children accountable; keeping them in line and on track.

Teachers that don’t stick around hurt students. It interrupts routine, structure and relationships that students need. It undermines efforts to teach children in a stable environment. For these reasons, I hope that you are committed to adequately funding teacher-residency programs in the ESSA plan.

It is my belief that in the long run; properly investing in these programs will pay a rich dividend by providing Indiana with dedicated teachers and better educated children.

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