Counties seek talent at Morgan

School systems see student teaching as way to recruit

Retention is difficult

Administrators say they hope to attract more diverse teachers

September 23, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll and other metropolitan Baltimore school systems are looking to a partnership with Morgan State University to help them attract minority teachers.

The Baltimore university, whose student body is predominantly African-American, gives its education majors practical classroom experiences in Baltimore city and county. It hopes to add nearby counties to the rotation soon.

The last of three partnership planning meetings took place yesterday at Carroll Community College in Westminster. It drew education administrators from Carroll, Harford, Howard, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City.

Morgan would assign its student teachers two seven-week rotations in classrooms, one in the city and the other in one of the surrounding counties.

"We are going to rotate so there is equity," said Evelyn B. Randall, coordinator of elementary teacher education at Morgan.

Randall plans to meet individually with the counties' administrators and begin the placements next year. Before her students enter a classroom in Westminster, Bel Air, Annapolis or Columbia, she will make sure they visit the counties several times.

"A large number of our students come from out of state and don't know much about the surrounding counties," she said. "They do know they will be in the minority and we will talk to them about subtle racism."

The hope is that the students will enjoy their practical experience enough to consider employment.

"We would like to bring student teachers from Morgan into the county and get them to look at Carroll County schools," said Stephen H. Guthrie, supervisor of human resources for county schools. "This relationship and teamwork are pieces to build recruiting and retention. We are interested in cultural diversity and ways to achieve it."

Carroll would like to be in Morgan's rotation by the next school year, Guthrie said. Less than 2 percent of Carroll's nearly 1,700 teachers are minority, a disparity that is not limited to one county.

"Everybody has problems with minority recruitment," said Ellen Miller, Howard County coordinator of teacher education. "These students are often snapped up by other professions besides teaching. Many of them have [employment] commitments to the communities from which they came."

Carroll Superintendent William H. Hyde said he is eager to participate in the partnership, which he called a true collaborative effort.

"There is a lot we can do for each other," Hyde said. "We as a system can benefit from having your students in our system. We could attract and retain greater numbers of individuals from diverse backgrounds."

First Carroll and the other counties have to attract student teachers, a task that is complicated by a dwindling pool of tenured teachers willing to work with them. The pairings usually require many additional hours with little compensation for the veteran instructor.

"Our teachers are not knocking each other down to take on student teachers," said Hal Hatton, Baltimore County student placement specialist. "We have to sell this thing and it takes money."

Oscar Davis, human resources coordinator with Anne Arundel schools, said a variety of approaches, such as financial incentives and education credits, would make teachers more willing to expend the time and effort.

"Develop different approaches and let the teachers decide," Davis said.

Randall suggested workshops to encourage and prepare teachers for the challenge of working with a student teacher.

"We don't want our students just to survive in the classroom," she said.

"We want them to learn. We want to make sure they get the support they need so they feel competent and capable."

Student teachers need guidance and freedom in the classroom, said Phyllis Black, president of Minority Program Implementation and a consultant with Carroll County schools.

"Student teachers are not baby sitters for the classroom," she said. "They actually participate in all aspects, particularly planning."

Black said she is excited to be working with Morgan State.

"It shows our county is interested in hiring minority teachers and Morgan is reaching out to counties with low minority staff and students," she said.

Pub Date: 9/23/99

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