Starting this year, prospective teachers who commit to work in the San Lorenzo Unified School District will receive a cost-of-living stipend of $30,750 while completing a 12-month, equity-focused teacher residency program through the Alder Graduate School of Education.
The stipend, up from a previous amount of $12,000, will be funded through a $300,000 state grant. The three-year award from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing will support students in the teacher-development program, which has been offered jointly by the SLZUSD and Alder Graduate School of Education (GSE) since 2019. The San Lorenzo Board of Education formally accepted the grant on Dec. 20.
The district began partnering with Alder in 2019 to help meet its demand for new teachers amid a nationwide shortage of teacher candidates. The one-year program emphasizes recruitment of diverse candidates who are from the San Lorenzo area and are committed to serving its students. Tuition is $21,930, and Alder assists qualifying students with scholarships and applications for grant aid.
Participants are carefully matched with mentors who are current teachers in the district, and they co-teach with them for a full academic year, gradually assuming increasing responsibility for instruction in their classroom. Through a combination of that classroom experience and coursework, they are able to earn a teaching credential and a master’s degree in just one year. Upon completion, residents receive priority consideration in hiring and will be asked to commit to teaching in the district at least four years.
Applications to the SLZUSD Alder Residency are accepted on a rolling basis until a cohort is filled. Round-two applications for 2023-24 are due Feb. 3, followed by a new deadline of March 24 if slots remain after that. Anyone interested in attending an online information session is asked to register here. The program application form is available here. Applicants must have completed their bachelor's degree by June 2023, which is also the beginning of the 2023-24 program year.
Over the past three years, the program has trained 19 new teachers in the San Lorenzo district. A total of 12 Alder graduates are now teaching in San Lorenzo schools – at Arroyo and San Lorenzo high schools, Bohannon and Edendale middle schools and five of the district’s seven elementary schools: Colonial Acres, Corvallis, Del Rey, Dayton and Hesperian. The Oakland Unified School District also participates in the program with SLZUSD.
San Lorenzo’s goal is to recruit 12 new residents for the 2023-24 school year, while continuing to retain Alder graduates as full-time, permanent teachers throughout the district’s 16 school sites.
The program’s ability to attract participants of color is helping SLZUSD achieve its goal of having a teaching corps that better reflects the diversity of its students. Over the past four years, 80% of Alder residents have been people of color, including 46% Latinx and 15% Black, compared with about a third of district teachers. Forty-six percent of the partnership’s residents have been Latinx, 15% Black and 19% Asian and Pacific Islander.
The program also has a specific emphasis on educational equity and inclusion, with a focus on anti-racist teaching and incorporates concepts of universal design for learning, an approach that works to accommodate the needs and abilities of all learners.
Kalena Yambao, a first-year special education teacher in English language arts at Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo, said her Alder Residency gave her an “invaluable” head start in her teaching career.
“Having access to the level of tenured teachers that were professors in the program, plus all the research-based practices that we learned, I feel that it saved 10 years of trying things myself,” said Yambao, who completed her own K-12 education in San Lorenzo schools. “I feel really grateful that we were able to work with them and experience their best practices and what things look like in real time. Having access basically to the best in the business really helped me a lot.”
Although participants are interested in teaching a variety of subjects, with an emphasis on STEM fields and bilingual-Spanish, the district has particularly relied on Alder for the high-need area of special education. By next year, 25% of district special education teachers are projected to be Alder graduates.
Of the six Alder students now in residency in the SLZUSD, three are in special education, one is in math and one is in elementary Spanish-English dual language immersion.
Another objective has been to recruit teachers who already work for the SLZUSD in such roles as para-educators and after-school aides and who are former San Lorenzo students. In 2021-22, 46% of residents were district employees, and 18% were graduates of district schools.
Alder mentor teacher Barbara Wellman, who teaches third- through fourth-grade special education at Lorenzo Manor Elementary school in San Lorenzo, said working with Alder Residency students over the past three school years “has upped my game.”
“There’s a strong relationship between me and my current resident,” Wellman said. “I am committed to her, and she is committed to being in this classroom. There’s a level of intensity on her part because she’s committed to be here all year, and she’s referred to as my co-teacher. She has a lot of responsibility.”
For more information, contact Program Coordinator Stacy Kaplan at [email protected].