What’s Right With Our Schools: Project Inspire

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF) -Teachers are always in high demand. Some people with college degrees in other areas might be feeling the call to the classroom. Now, they can get all the course work and licensing they need in just over a year. It’s called Project Inspire. Mark Neal is its Director.


He says, ” Project Inspire is a teacher residency that provides folks who did not study education would be an opportunity to train to become a teacher. We recruit and train college graduates. And within 14 months provide them with a license to become a teacher and also the coursework that they need. Somebody who didn’t set out to be a teacher but maybe has discovered along the way through work with kids that that is where the passion lies, project inspire would be the program for them.”


Jonathan Brown is a 1st Grade Teacher at Orchard Knob.


He says, “I didn’t want to be a teacher. That wasn’t my career path when I was in undergrad. So I actually went to school right down the road at Sewanee, the University of the South and I was, I majored in American studies with a minor in psychology and education. And you get to your senior year and you are like what are you doing, what do you want to do. And I said I love kids. I love to learn and I put it together and that is a teacher.  Having teachers in front of them that look like them is, does significant wonders. And it is so, so, so powerful.”


Mark adds, “We really know from the research that having a teacher of color, having diverse teachers along the way improves outcomes for kids. It improves graduation rates, it improves completion of college, it improves achievement all along the way through the K 12 experience.”


Jonathan chips in, “If you look at it how I paint it to people, 13% of black educators in America and of those if you look at black men, they are 2% of the population. So you got a think you’re not gonna say a lot of them. I can count on two hands how many black educators I’ve had. I can count on one how many of those or mail. And my first Mail wasn’t until the seventh grade.”


Mark concludes, “We want them to be able to see them selves in the educator that is in front of the room. That even stretches further because we want kids to be able to see themselves as the next educator. So really the first step and that is seeing someone that looks like you in front of the classroom and leading you. And being in a position that is very important within our world and knowing that someday you can inspire to that as well.”



Categories: Education, Local News, What’s Right With Our Schools