By Jennifer Ortiz
HOWELL – Administrators in the Howell K-8 School District have discussed a grant that will provide teachers with the opportunity to enroll in a teacher leadership master’s course at Rider University, Lawrenceville.
After completing the course, a teacher would be eligible to mentor Rider University student-teachers who have a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to switch careers into teaching.
Teachers from Howell Middle School North and the Ardena School were selected to participate as a result of both schools’ outstanding English as a Second Language (ESL) program.
Bruce Preston, the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and personnel, said, “We have been awarded a model program status from the work we have done in our ESL program, so I think this is sort of a natural connection. A particular focus of Rider University is to work with teacher leadership, specifically in areas where students have demonstrated exceptional needs, ESL being one of those populations.”
In collaboration with the Freehold Borough K-8 School District, the Howell school district hosted educators from New Taipei City, Taiwan, in October, Preston said. The guests visited educational programs in the schools of their sister city, Freehold Borough, and they observed Howell’s ESL program to learn how it was designed and to exchange expertise. ESL students and teachers from the Ardena School and Howell Middle School North also participated in the experience.
“(Representatives from) Rider University were there because they were already working with Freehold Borough on this program, the Teachers As Leaders Learners (TALL) grant. That is where the conversation came about. It was a natural extension of that work,” Preston said.
The grant will provide between 10 and 16 teachers from Howell Middle School North and the Ardena School with an opportunity to enroll in a master’s course in teacher leadership. The course prepares experienced teachers to assume a greater leadership role in their school and to share their skills with their fellow educators while remaining active in the classroom.
“There is a tremendous benefit that I think we will receive from the relationship with Rider University,” Preston said.
Individuals who want to change careers and enter the field of education will spend a year-long internship with a Howell teacher leader who has been trained through the TALL grant, he said, adding that the student-teachers will be observed by principals, administrators and teachers.
School board member Mary Cerretani said, “Our teachers get educated, new teachers become educated, and who wins? Our students.”