In the last few years, as a nearly decade-long teacher shortage met a global pandemic, teachers have exited the profession in unprecedented numbers, transforming a troubling trend into a full-blown crisis.
“This is a pipeline issue,” says Christopher Morphew, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Education. “Record-low unemployment, strong hiring in other professions, and the considerable cost of education add up to too few college grads entering the field and too many qualified teachers leaving.”
Determined to fill the gap, Morphew and a team of faculty at the school developed TeachingWell, a “groundbreaking” master’s degree residency program that provides participants with tuition support for STEM-related, evidence-based teacher training and a guaranteed job in an approved Baltimore-area partnership school. It is all capped with four years of hands-on professional development geared to start off long-term teaching careers on the right foot.
Candidates must have earned an undergraduate degree in a science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or related field or have completed undergraduate coursework in a STEM academic discipline and commit to remain in the residency program for the full four-year term.
Preparing the next generation of teachers
TeachingWell will create a diverse corps of teachers imbued with skills in secondary STEM instruction and culturally responsive teaching methods that are highly valued in today’s educational environment. At the same time, teachers will grow more firmly committed to the communities they serve through ongoing classroom coaching and career guidance. The goal is to prepare teachers for long-term success in the profession.
Students in TeachingWell will earn the Master of Education for Teaching Professionals in four semesters at Johns Hopkins and gain Maryland state teacher certification along with real-world teaching experience—all made stronger by ongoing mentoring, life design, and teacher wellness programs through the university.
“We will focus on teacher well-being and life-design skills that address burnout and mental health concerns that are forcing too many teachers out of the profession,” says Mary Ellen Beaty-O’Ferrall, associate professor at the School of Education and faculty director of TeachingWell. “We want teachers with staying power—effective and financially stable educators with strong personal well-being.”
Focus on finances
TeachingWell offers a lower-cost graduate degree from one of the premier schools of education in the country, plus a guaranteed job and long-term career support. Candidates will also receive a stipend for living expenses.
The program will be combined with new policies implemented by the State of Maryland that promise significant pay bumps for teachers who earn national board certification. Achieving such certification by year four or five of the residency qualifies teachers for considerable salary increases relatively early in their careers.
“TeachingWell is a program designed to produce educators who can teach well but also to create a metaphorical ‘well’ of qualified, committed teachers who love their profession and are in it for a lifetime,” Beaty-O’Ferrall says. “At a time when student debt and the cost of college is in focus, TeachingWell makes a pretty complete and attractive offer.”
TeachingWell is enrolling students now for the 2024 academic year. Beaty-O’Ferrall hopes to have 15 to 20 students in the first cohort, growing that number to an eventual 50 or so students in a few years.
“TeachingWell will replenish the teaching pipeline by reducing financial barriers for teachers entering the profession,” Beaty-O’Ferrall concludes. “But it also prepares them for the rewarding and fulfilling work ahead, educating, inspiring, and supporting the secondary students in Baltimore in the STEM disciplines with their content and pedagogical expertise.”