City of Bridgeport and SHU Receive 'Transition to Teaching' Grant from U.S. Department of Education

News Story: September 13, 2012

The Bridgeport Public Schools, with the assistance of Sacred Heart University’s Dr. Lois Libby, has successfully earned a Transition to Teaching grant, in the amount of $192,822 for the first year, from the U.S. Department of Education. Transitions to Teaching projects are funded for five years. Traditionally the funding increases each year.

The Transition to Teaching program supports efforts to recruit mid-year professionals and recent graduates with degrees outside of education and then helps them become teachers through alternative certification routes. The program also emphasizes placing teachers in high-need schools. The Bridgeport program will involve the recruitment of 20 candidates who fit the criteria described above to enroll in Sacred Heart’s secondary education certification program. Each candidate will receive $5,000 toward his or her tuition for the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program. The curriculum will be tailored with the needs of the Bridgeport Public Schools in mind. Once the students earn their degrees, they will teach math in Bridgeport’s secondary schools.

“This is an exciting program that is a win-win for both Bridgeport and Sacred Heart. The Bridgeport Public Schools will get sorely needed math teachers, and Sacred Heart will have an additional source of MAT candidates. It is a natural continuation of the collaboration between Sacred Heart and the Bridgeport schools,” Dr. Libby said.

She said the MAT students will have the option to serve as interns or substitute teachers in Bridgeport while earning their degrees. Those that choose an internship will receive a discount on their tuition. Once they have earned 24 credits, they may be able to get a durational shortage area permit that would allow them to teach for pay.

Dr. Libby says the grant, which was the only one awarded in Connecticut, will also fund an accounts receivable staff member at SHU who will devote 25% of his or her workday to the Transition to Teaching program. 

“Dr. Libby deserves congratulations for her successful collaboration with the Bridgeport Public Schools on this grant application. Numeracy skills are essential foundations for students to develop 21st-century competencies and to become college ready.  It is a strategic goal for Bridgeport to achieve college readiness for all students,” said Dr. Edward W. Malin, chair of SHU’s Department of Education. “The Isabelle Farrington College of Education is committed to fostering excellence in a changing world. The shortage of math teachers is a significant barrier to the achievement of those goals. It is therefore most appropriate that we collaborate with the City of Bridgeport to help prepare teachers who will be able to foster these skill sets.  We are looking forward to preparing the students in this program to fill much-needed teaching roles in Bridgeport’s secondary schools.”

“Talented teachers come from all walks of life, and life experiences can enhance a teacher’s abilities in the classroom and rapport with students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants will encourage more interested professionals to transition to teaching and increase our cadre of teachers for schools that need them the most.”

The Transition to Teaching grant-writing team was comprised of Executive Director of Bridgeport Public Schools and SHU class of 1976 alumna Carole Pannozzo, District TEAM Coordinator Kathie Sochacki, Evaluation Staff Mediator Victoria White, Director of Mathematics Dr. Ricardo Rosa, and UCLA School Management Group Consultant Renie Avery.