NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Jimmy Arredondo moved to South Korea more than 10 years ago to teach English, the Tennessee State University graduate came away from the experience with a renewed drive and passion to become a certified teacher.
“I finally discovered what I was meant to do,” said Arredondo, who graduated in May with a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. “When I first received my bachelor’s degree in English and history, I had no desire at all to teach. But when I was in South Korea, I felt like this is what I was destined to do and it was something I actually enjoyed.”
Arredondo recently landed a position with Antioch Middle School teaching social studies, and is one of many that have landed jobs with the Metropolitan Nashville Public School System ready to teach thanks to the education and training he received at TSU.
Having no official teacher training, Arredondo decided to attend TSU because of the reputation the University for producing and placing teachers in their chosen career field.
“I had no prior classroom teaching and TSU gave me the skills I needed to be successful,” added Arredondo. “I now feel comfortable when I walk into the classroom on day one and start my teaching career knowing a I have a big toolbox of methods and classroom management skills to draw on.”
For the past two years, Tennessee State University has been one of the top teacher preparation programs in the state, providing exceptionally qualified candidates for teaching positions not only across the state and the southern region, but right here in the University’s backyard with MNPS.
“We have one of the top education programs in the country, and our students have the skills and abilities to teach anywhere across the country due to the teacher preparation they receive here at Tennessee State University,” said Dr. Kimberly King-Jupiter, dean of the College of Education. “The students that choose to remain in the Nashville area have better opportunities with Metropolitan Public School System because of the wonderful partnerships and programs that have been created over the years along with a steady pipeline into the school system.”
TSU has long been a popular spot to recruit top educators into the Nashville school system. During the 2013-2014 school year, of the 636 new hires, 54 were from TSU, second only to MTSU with 56. Vanderbilt University followed in the third spot with 44, along with Lipscomb and Trevecca Nazarene Universities, which tied for the fourth spot with 40 among area institutions pipelining students directly into Metro.
In 2012, 52 of the 553 new hires were from TSU, placing the University in the number one spot, with MTSU coming in a close second with 50 hires. Lipscomb, Trevecca and Vanderbilt came in at third, fourth and fifth respectively.
“We have a great working relationship with Metro, with nearly nine percent of the total new hires with the Metro school system coming from TSU over the past two years,” said Dr. Heraldo Richards, associate dean of the College of Education. “We have a direct pipeline with our students who are highly recruited. In fact, some of our students have been offered positions prior to finishing the program.”
According to Richards, one of the most successful programs is the Ready2Teach training students receive in their senior year. A clinically rich undergraduate teacher residency preparation program, Ready2Teach emphasizes problem-based learning, co-teaching, and performance-based assessment.
Richards explained that Ready2Teach, an initiative unique to the Tennessee Board of Regents schools of which TSU is a part, puts more focus on future teachers learning in-depth content in the subject they plan to teach, applying problem-based learning, and completing a year-long residency with mentor teachers in a P-12 classroom.
“This gives our students the opportunity to stay in the same class the entire year and receive valuable training with the same students and mentor teacher,” added Richards. “It’s very different from past training. When students are placed in the residency program, they are ready and certified to teach after just four years. Our students feel that they are extremely prepared to walk into a classroom and teach immediately.”
Principals in the Metro school system agree, and have been so impressed with the quality of teachers that some have offered positions to students following completion of the program.
Michael Ross, principal at the Caldwell Enhanced Option School in east Nashville said he offered positions to two of the five students that went through the residency program during the 2012-2013 school year.
“The students from TSU that have come through the program at Caldwell have all had a full understanding on how to work with students of diverse backgrounds and learning abilities,” Ross said. “Each student, while going through the residency program, had great insight on how to work with students and meet them where they are in their education level. Both of the students I hired from TSU have done a fantastic job this year and I have been very proud of what they have accomplished. I attribute it all to the training they received at Tennessee State.”
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With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.