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University of Indianapolis partners with Teach For America to help fight the teacher shortage

Dr. John Somers teaches TFA corps members

The University of Indianapolis is helping train and develop dozens of diverse leaders who plan to teach in high-need schools for at least the next two years, thanks to a recent partnership with Teach For America.

Teach For America (TFA) has partnered with UIndy’s Transition to Teaching program in which students can get their master’s degree in education in as little as 18 months. The program provides additional in-depth training to these educators, known as corps members, at an affordable cost.

Kirsten Lockwood teaches a student
Kirsten Lockwood works with a student in the Summer Learning Lab at Believe Circle City High School.

More than 40 new Teach For America corps members like Kirsten Lockwood are starting in the TFA program in Central Indiana this summer. While many of the corps members are from all around the country, Lockwood is a 2023 English major from UIndy.

Lockwood is among the new corps members working at the Summer Learning Lab this summer at Believe Circle City. She grew up in a home of educators, but only recently decided to pursue the career herself—impacted by all her parents’ former students who have approached and thanked them over the years for their impact on their lives.

“There’s still so much I don’t know about the technical side of teaching,” said Lockwood. “Just to be continuing to learn that while also sharing my passion with others, it’s just a really cool parallel.”

The summer programming is a key component of TFA’s multi-part, nationwide intensive pre-service experience which extends through teachers’ first 90 days in the classroom, and which all of its new teachers nationwide will experience. Training focuses on instruction, learning environments, diversity, equity, inclusiveness and content.

Dr. John Somers teaches TFA corps members
Dr. John Somers works with TFA corps members as part of their welcome orientation for the UIndy master’s program.

The entire group spent some time on campus in preparation for their master’s coursework under the supervision of Dr. John Somers, UIndy’s Director of Graduate Students for the School of Education as well as Dr. Libby Turner, Director of Elementary Education. Classes will begin for the newest cohort on July 8.

“We are very excited about our partnership with the University of Indianapolis,” said Dr. Tenika Holden-Flynn, Executive Director for Teach For America Indianapolis. “As we work towards a common mission of educational equity and excellence for all students across our city, our corps members benefit a great deal from the education they receive at UIndy and the knowledge they can gain from UIndy’s experienced faculty.” 

School of Education Dean Dr. John Kuykendall believes the extra training will result in increased professional satisfaction and expertise, which will only lead to higher retention as well.

Believe Circle City school
The front of Believe Circle City which is hosting a Summer Learning Lab for Indianapolis middle school and high school students.

“Every teacher has the capability to transform the life of every student they teach and interact with,” said Kuykendall. “I am delighted for UIndy’s partnership with Teach For America because it means a group of leaders who want to be a positive force for change will be better equipped to transform the lives of their students.”

Lockwood wants to become an English teacher. She knows the master’s degree will not only help improve her pay scale, but also provide opportunities for entering into administration.

“It comes with a lot of benefits in the job itself as well as growth opportunities,” said Lockwood. “If I can do it now at a flexible cost, why not just do it now instead of waiting?”

And the fact that she’s getting a degree from her alma mater is just a bonus.

“Go Hounds!”

Dr. John Somers teaches TFA corps members