IUS and Community Montessori Charter School Partner in the Indiana Commission for Higher Education Teacher Residency Grant Program

8th May 2024
An IU Southeast student teaches a lesson at Community Montessori to a group of children.
An IU Southeast student teaches a lesson at Community Montessori.

By Sandra Loughran, Adjunct Faculty of IU Southeast School of Education

NEW ALBANY, Ind. – The Teacher Residency Grant Program was created in 2019 by the Indiana General Assembly. It was modeled after medical residency and apprenticeship programs. The teacher residency programs are year-long, paid teaching experiences for student educators who plan on teaching kindergarten through 12th grade. Students teach alongside an experienced mentor teacher, preparing them for the classroom after graduation. School corporations partner with an Indiana postsecondary institution to execute the program in their district. Institutions provide resources to the corporations, including program monitoring and evaluation, and sourcing of residency candidates.  IUS has been partnering with Community Montessori Charter School since the first year of this grant program.

The first year of the grant, Community Montessori Charter School received confirmation of the grant with IUS allowing two candidates to partake in the program. Two years later the renewal of the grant  expanded to three candidates. Presently, Director, Barbara Fondren, is interviewing four of our candidates for the 2024-2025 school year.  They will each receive a full year internship with a stipend of $12,500.00.

Kayti Craigmyle Renn was one of the first candidates in the program and described her experience student teaching at Community Montessori.

“As soon as I walked in, I felt like I was home,” she said. “It taught me how to guide learners – a skill that, in my view, every leader of young minds should be able to execute.”  

An IU Southeast student teacher works with Community Montessori children.
An IU Southeast student teacher works with Community Montessori children.

Sarah Mills participated in the second year of the grant program and was at Community Montessori during the COVID pandemic.

“Seeing their learners explore and learn through the use of Montessori learning materials was an invaluable experience that helped me view learning in a new light.  My time at Community Montessori inspired me to evolve as an educator which would not have been possible at any other school, and for that I am grateful.” 

During the third year of the grant, Morgan Miner worked with Community Montessori and had a steep learning curve.

“Even though I knew the bare minimum of what Montessori teaching was, Barbara  Fondren (the founder and director of CM) accepted me and my knowledge and offered me opportunities to learn, practice, and grow. I worked with teachers and mentors who wanted to hear what I know and shared their experiences as well. They taught me Montessori lessons and practices that I could then offer to our learners. I was taught the importance of following a child to see that they are capable of so much more than we often give them credit.”

Janasia Ricketts graduated this spring and is set to begin her teaching career in the fall. Ricketts says her experience helped her learn about the diverse ways children approach learning and problem-solving.

“Having the ability to see the Montessori Philosophy in action has helped me learn that can cultivate an inclusive and supportive classroom where students feel valued for their individuality, and not only their academic performance.  I am happy to be able to take these experiences and knowledge and implement them in a traditional setting.  My future goal is to create a new environment where both traditional and Montessori values are shared.” 

“From day one, I have had people in all areas of the building showing genuine interest inn who I am and what I do.  This same care is shown to all of the students in the building.  Community Montessori truly embodies a student-centered environment where the educational needs of the individual student is consistently the motivation.  In this space I have learned the value of listening to your students’ needs through observations as well as various methods of interventions and accommodations.  I am extremely grateful for this experience.  It has been extraordinarily eye opening to me and the tools I have gained have made me a better educator.” Niyah Dennison

Several key partners cooperated and collaborated on the grant program, including Barbara Burke Fondren, Director and Founder of Community Montessori, Dr. Faye Camahalan, IU Southeast Dean of the School of Education, the faculties of both institutions, as well as the candidates who each year volunteered to apply for the grant knowing that it would be a totally different experience than the ones they had previously had throughout their training at IU Southeast and the local schools during each semester. The IU Southeast School of Education faculty mentors are Drs. Jacque Singleton and Sandra Loughran. 

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