in the fall 2000 with funding under a 6-year grant from the state of Maryland to pay the tuition for the program participants. The PhDs fill teaching vacancies at MCPS in their field of expertise for the school year and receive the salary and benefits of a first-year teacher. MCPS provides mentors for each participant; NIH provides some stipends for opportunities to work in laboratories during the summer. Although the program was designed to meet the needs of NIH postdoctoral fellows, the MCPS part of the program is open to other midcareer professionals. There were 2 postdoctoral fellows in the first cohort of 13, and the program administrators expect an average of 2-4 postdoctoral fellows in the program each year.
Program participants receive orientation training in the summer just prior to the start of the their first classroom teaching experience. They are classified as “resident teachers” until they complete the 2-year course of studies, pass both Parts I and II of the Praxis exam,1 and receive a successful evaluation for at least 1 year of teaching. Fulfilling these three requirements makes them eligible for a teaching certificate from the state of Maryland. The teacher education courses are offered at an MCPS school site, taught by MCPS master teachers. The integration of coursework with classroom teaching allows the resident teachers to understand the relevance of the coursework to their classroom and to apply what they learn in their teaching practice.
The coursework covers the following areas, as required by the Maryland State Department of Education: human learning, adolescent development, special needs students, assessment, teaching methods, and reading 1 and 2. To address pedagogical skills, the cohort meets weekly with experienced, master MCPS teachers. All preparation activities are tied directly to the participants’ teaching activities in their classrooms. Topics are addressed in a way that anticipates their needs, answers their questions, and helps them plan successful instruction.