As a teacher at Summerbridge New Haven during the summer of 2000, I encountered a fantastic model for training teachers: hands-on classroom teaching supported by experienced mentors who were trained to facilitate my learning; a cohort of teachers who worked collaboratively together; opportunities for reflection and goal-setting; a focus on student-centered, inquiry-based pedagogy; and an experience that helped me envision my future as a teacher. Key moments from that summer, whether they involved witnessing growth in a student’s understanding and self-expression during writing conferences, watching my students perform goofy skits in Spanish, or listening to them sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during Celebration, convinced me that teaching would be a rewarding, challenging, and exciting career.
After seven years of teaching high school English and working as a mentor and literacy coach in the Bronx public schools, I have become the director of a new teacher preparation program that echoes all of these important elements from Summerbridge/ Breakthrough Collaborative. The New Visions-Hunter College Urban Teacher Residency is designed to harness the energy and support of teacher mentoring and collaboration to help new educators begin sustainable careers as effective teachers. Urban Teacher Residencies are a new movement in teacher preparation, one that puts the classroom at the center for the first time, and I am proud to be part of this effort. I trace my interest in supporting the development of new teachers directly to my Breakthrough experience, because I know it was my training during that Summerbridge summer that allowed me to survive those first few tough years in the Bronx.
Marisa Harford–Teacher, Summerbridge New Haven, 2000
Senior Program Officer
Urban Teacher Residency
New Visions for Public Schools