North Shore Country Day hosted an intensive three-day meeting for about 90 educators involved in the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education Day School Teaching Residency program October 11-13.
In 2017, Penn’s Graduate School of Education selected NSCD and nine other highly regarded independent day schools to launch this innovative two-year program that allows aspiring teachers to earn a master’s degree while completing a teaching fellowship at a partner school. Out of the 10 schools initially chosen for the program, NSCD was the only one outside of the East Coast. Since then, two more schools have been added, including one outside Cleveland.
The day school residency was modeled after a similar program at the University of Pennsylvania for boarding schools. Head of School Tom Flemma was one of the original architects of that program when he worked at The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut before coming to North Shore. “The Penn program was transformative for Hotchkiss in many ways,” Tom said. “Having North Shore join the Day School cohort was a no-brainer to me. It’s that powerful.”
Over the course of the two-year program, fellows complete 10 graduate-level course units. In their second year, they complete an inquiry project and construct a portfolio. During this time, they also teach in one of the partner schools. Upon successful completion of the program, the fellows receive a Master’s of Science in Education.
One faculty member from each partner school is designated as a dean of the program, charged to partner with Penn faculty to create and implement the curriculum. At NSCD, Upper School Dean of Students Erik Cooper serves in that role.
The fellows observe their mentors teaching a class, and then they teach the same class while their mentors observe and give them feedback. This year, NSCD has a French teacher, biology teacher and an English teacher.
The fellows are not the only ones gaining from the program. Mentor teachers say they have grown tremendously as they have served in the role. “Here are teachers coming right out of college who have incredible energy and enthusiasm. But also they're getting so much through the Penn program—all of this incredible experience in educational theory that really has a trickle-down effect,” Erik explained. “We're talking about some of these theories in our faculty meetings now. They're introducing new styles and techniques into their classrooms. So I feel like in many ways the master's program is impacting more than just the fellows.”
North Shore Country Day School is a junior kindergarten through 12th grade, college-preparatory school founded in Winnetka, Illinois in 1919. With rigorous academic pursuit as the cornerstone, North Shore provides many opportunities for all students to excel – in the classroom and the laboratory, on the stage and the playing field, in their communities and beyond.