Our blog team caught up with Kathleen Richardson, Executive Director of Urban Teacher Center, Baltimore (UTC) to discuss the role of quality teachers and quality schools in successful neighborhood and city development.
Tell us a bit about the Urban Teacher Center (UTC), how did the organization emerge, and what do you do?
UTC is a four year teacher training program, with a 14-month “residency” in the classroom’s of one of our 36 partner schools in Baltimore City. Our trainees leave with a Masters in Special Education and either Elementary Education or Secondary Math. UTC was formed in 2010, with founding programs in both Baltimore and Washington, D.C. but our national headquarters is here in Baltimore. Our first cohort of Baltimore residents just finished their 4th and final year of the program, and we are thrilled because everyone in the cohort is staying in the teaching profession. This is an exciting time for us!
Why does UTC focus on Baltimore City Schools?
Our founders and staff members all have strong connections with Baltimore. Baltimore City principals value UTC teachers because our teachers begin their professional careers with a year of experience under their belt working directly with Baltimore students. UTC teachers are trained rigorously in either elementary education or secondary math content in addition to special education, which is a great value. They come in to the classroom with a deep understanding of Baltimore City’s schools, communities, and students.
What inspired you to participate in Greater Homewood’s Neighborhood Institute?
GHCC’s programming is embedded in schools. Work like theirs, and ours, creates value in the community. Our teachers are not only trained in instructional content, but also how to work in the communities where they are placed. The Neighborhood Institute was a good networking and training opportunity for the community as a whole. Every workshop topic was not just talked about, but was acted on.
What role do you think education and healthy schools play in building strong neighborhoods?
I believe education and healthy schools play the most important role in building strong neighborhoods. We train our teachers to integrate their work into the community. They cannot “shut their doors” at the end of the school day. Our teachers spend a great deal of their time participating in their communities.
What do you love about Baltimore?
The success of Baltimore’s schools is so important for the continued success of the city. Personally, Baltimore is my home, it’s where I work, it’s where I send my son to school – I am invested in Baltimore.
Many thanks to Kathleen and Urban Teacher Center for supporting GHCC’s 2014 Neighborhood Institute – the 2015 Neighborhood Institute will be on April 18, 2015 at the Baltimore Design School – registration will open soon, so keep your eyes peeled!