OXFORD, Miss. – Teacher education veteran Tom Brady will join the University of Mississippi faculty as the new director of the Mississippi Teacher Corps, one the most selective alternate route teacher training programs in the nation.
As the new director of the 24-year-old program, Brady will join UM School of Education, Mississippi’s largest producer of teachers and educational leaders, on Aug. 1 with more than 15 years’ experience as both a high school mathematics teacher in Connecticut and Massachusetts and as a faculty member at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Mass. He will be the first full director of the program, breaking away from a previous structure with two co-directors.
“This program really spoke to me because it impacts children in high needs areas,” explained Brady, a native of Farmington, Conn. “I was an alternate route teacher. The last program I coordinated used a similar model for training noneducation majors to become teachers, so this really is a tailor fit.”
With the upcoming retirement of Teacher Corps co-founder Andy Mullins, who serves as co-director of the program and chief of staff to the chancellor, and Teacher Corps co-director Ryan Niemeyer’s recent appointment as the new director of the UM chapter of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, Brady was selected to become the program’s primary administrator after a national search. He will also serve as a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education.
“I am delighted Dr. Brady has chosen to come down to be the full director of the Teacher Corps,” said Mullins, who plans to return to UM part-time in October to teach in the School of Education. “I’m confident that we’re putting the program in very capable hands. He has run an alternate route program before and he has the know-how and personality to work with young teachers in school districts that need help.”
Over nearly two-and-a-half decades, the Teacher Corps, which receives its primary funding from the Mississippi Legislature, has attracted some of the nation’s top college graduates to teach in the state’s most demanding classrooms in the Delta and other critical-needs areas. More than 460 teachers have graduated in its history. The program recruits from leading colleges and universities and only accepts individuals with degrees in fields outside education, ranging from the humanities to professional disciplines such as business and law.
The two-year program requires teachers to complete coursework at the School of Education to earn a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. It also qualifies teachers to apply for an advanced Mississippi teacher’s license from the Mississippi Department of Education.
A veteran of critical-needs urban schools in Massachusetts, Brady is familiar with the challenges high school instructors face on a daily basis in high-needs classrooms, especially during the first year of teaching.
“The needs of different schools and teachers vary, but timing is a huge factor for new educators,” he explained. “It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to develop lessons plans and build the relationships you need to become an effective educator. Also, you have to have a passion for children and education to be successful. You have to develop a rapport with your students to pull them along with you.”
In his previous post at Bridgewater State, Brady redesigned existing teacher preparation courses to better accommodate working teachers with a combination of online and hybrid courses. He will evaluate the need for similar changes to the coursework offered by the Mississippi Teacher Corps in his new post.
“I really like the strengths of the Teacher Corps model,” Brady said. “A lot of alternate route programs have a reputation of just throwing people into a sink-or-swim situation, and so many new teachers wash out because of that. There’s so much support already built into the program. The Teacher Corps is obviously a well-oiled machine.”
The latest cohort of 35 new recruits is enrolled in coursework at UM and beginning a summer training residency at Holly Springs High School, where veterans of the program and UM faculty train new teachers to plan lessons, lead discussions and evaluate themselves as instructional leaders. The intense summer residency program is often a make-or-break moment for new recruits.
Brady holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Central Connecticut State University, and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from St. Joseph College. His recent book, “The Beginning Teacher,” was published in fall 2012 and examines the development of educational philosophies among new and pre-service teachers.
By Andrew Mark Abernathy