This past summer, as Hope School District was looking to hire a handful of new teachers in the high school and middle school, it looked to a familiar place. Since 2013 Arkansas Teacher Corps, a non-profit service organization started at the University of Arkansas, has worked with Hope School District to fill teacher vacancies.
This year, four new ATC Fellows have arrived in Hope to join the three others that are currently finishing out their teaching Fellowships. The four new Fellows have a mix of bachelor’s and master’s degrees ranging from Political Science, African American Studies, History, and Higher Education with multiple double majors. All four teachers are recent college graduates and are either from Arkansas or have strong ties to The Natural State.
The four newcomers for 2018 include:
• Ashley Byrd of Hooks, TX; graduate of University of Arkansas; M.Ed. in Higher Education; teaching English language arts at Hope High School.
• Chantz Bellamy of Hot Springs, AR; graduate of the University of Arkansas; BA History and Political Science; teaching English language arts at Hope Middle School.
• Chris Wimberly of Fayetteville, AR; graduate of the University of Arkansas; BA in Human Resources Workforce Development and African and African American Studies; teaching math at Hope High School.
• Hosea Born of Goodman, MO; graduate of the University of Arkansas; BA in Communication and Political Science; teaching math at Hope Middle School.
The program, which seeks to alleviate the teacher shortage faced by school districts across the southern and eastern part of the state, prides itself on its ability to prepare and support first year teachers, making them quickly effective in the challenging environment of first year teaching.
All ATC Fellows attend a rigorous eight-week summer training program, which includes serving as a summer school teacher in Osceola, AR, before they begin their first year of teaching.
HSD administrators have taken note of the preparedness and dedication displayed by ATC teachers. Josclyn Wiley, principal at Yerger Middle School, which recently hired Bellamy and Born described her satisfaction with the first year teachers by noting “the staff development training that they received before they got to campus has tremendously impacted their ability to relate to our students and jump right in as immediately effective teachers.”
Hope High School Principal Bill Hoglund, who has been working directly with ATC for three years, said “ATC teachers come to Hope High School better prepared than any other first-year teachers I have hired. The support system for ATC teachers helps our teachers become better teachers almost immediately.”
The four newest Fellows join existing second-year fellows Jill Carlson and Ben Vernosky, along Courtney Howard in her third year of service.
Howard of Turlock, CA is a graduate of Kansas State University and teaches English language arts at the high school, while Carlson of Broomfield, CO is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. She also teaches high school English language arts in Hope. Vernosky of Valparaiso, IN is a graduate of Purdue University and teaches high school math.
Past ATC Fellows in the Hope School District have included Minerva Pineda, a 2015 ATC Fellow; Lindsay Trahan, a 2013 ATC Fellow; Brittney Chesher, a 2013 ATC Fellow, the 2015 Hope School District Teacher of the Year, Will Chesher, who was also a 2013 ATC Fellow.
Arkansas Teacher Corps (ATC) addresses teacher shortages in high-need districts based on shortages in both geographic areas and specific content/subject areas. ATC is driven by its mission to “recruit, train and support exceptional, social justice-oriented individuals to serve as teachers for Arkansas students who need them the most.”
ATC recruits and trains roughly 30 teachers each school year, with applications available on their website, www.arkansasteachercorps.org . Individuals from all majors and backgrounds are welcome to apply and ATC aims to bring in a significant number of teachers that are from its placement communities.
Arkansas Teacher Corps is a partnership between the University of Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Education, and 23 Arkansas school districts. Funding for the program has been made available through collaboration between the College of Education and Health Professions, the Walton Family Foundation, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, and individual donors through the Arkansas Teacher Corps Society.