Montclair State Program Teaches Newark Students How to Teach

A Montclair State program jumpstarts college credits for qualified Newark high school students, with the added bonus of a teaching job.

Red Hawks Rising Teacher Academy program students
The Red Hawks Rising Teacher Academy program is offered at East Side and University high schools in Newark. Photo courtesy of Mike Peters/Montclair State University

A growing program at Montclair State University jumpstarts college credits for qualified Newark high school students, with the added bonus of a teaching job once they graduate.

“What’s better than going through the program and then coming back to your old high school or to an old neighborhood and teaching?” says Michael West, vice principal of East Side High School.

The Red Hawks Rising Teacher Academy program, offered at East Side and University high schools, began in September 2019 as a partnership between MSU, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Newark Board of Education. Students who finish the program with at least a 3.0 GPA are awarded 30 college credits and immediate acceptance to the university, in addition to a stipend of $3,700 from the AFT.

The curriculum for the 35 students enrolled includes social justice and community activities. Newark superintendent Roger León promises that any student who graduates with a teaching certificate through the MSU program will be given a teaching contract at a Newark school.

The Academy hopes the program, designed to teach students time management and problem solving, will also make Newark’s teaching staff more diverse.

“I think it’s going to pay dividends for these students, not only as undergrads, but getting into professional positions,” says West. “There are unlimited possibilities for our students down the road.”

In a recent interview with New Jersey Monthly, MSU President Jonathan Koppell said one of his goals is to “define this university by its service to the community.”

“For example, we have education students teaching and working with schools; nursing students working on the front lines, vaccinating. And entrepreneurship students working with small businesses in Paterson,” he said. “There’s a real opportunity to learn through service. We want to become New Jersey’s premier public service university and define students’ experiences here.”

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