Through Teaching Fellow Residency Program, Former Student Returns to Teach

“I never imagined that I would be serving as an AmeriCorps member with Citizen Schools at a school I once attended as a student. At first, it was jarring to be back at the Trotter after so many years, but the familiarity eventually made me feel comfortable.”

Tara Hollins is a second-year AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow at the Trotter Middle School in Boston, MA. She is also part of the Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow Residency - a program that allows Teaching Fellows to work towards a masters degree in education at UMASS Boston and complete their student teaching during their second year of service.  

“I chose the Citizen Schools National Teaching Fellowship because I had a desire to teach youth. Many people say they want to help others when they grow up, and my avenue for helping leads straight to the classroom. It always helps to have someone work with you to discover and go for your dreams, which is exactly what Citizen Schools does.”

During the Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow Residency, Residents complete student teaching with a mentor teacher at their partner school, attend graduate courses at UMASS Boston, and lead the Citizen Schools programming at their campus.  After completing the residency, many Residents have gone on to secure teaching positions in Boston Public Schools - oftentimes at the school where they completed their service.  Robert Rametti, Principal at the Edwards Middle School, tells us graduates of the Citizen Schools Residency program are the strongest first year teachers he’s ever had!  

“Being a teacher requires many roles: academic support, counselor, and even parent. This career brings out all of these roles when your mindset is stayed on meeting your students where they are.  Being a Teaching Fellow has pushed me to grow and strive to understand how I can be a scaffold to a student’s success. I also believe that each day is an opportunity to learn; from my students, mentor teacher with the residency, partner teacher with Citizen Schools, and my colleagues. I’m not a ‘savior.’ Instead, I’m an active pusher, a listener, and a reminder that with hard work, you can achieve the almost impossible!”

The residency is an affordable pathway for teaching fellows who want to pursue teacher certification.  Americorps members earn a bi-weekly living stipend of $905.77 (max of $23,550 annually), as well as an education award of up to $5,815 after each year of service. Most Americorps members also qualify for SNAP assistance as well.  When Teaching Fellows apply both awards to their UMASS tuition, the total out of pocket costs for the Masters in Education is less than $3,000.

“I am always reminded about how much impact my fifth grade teacher had in my life academically and I aspire to be that same positive impact for my current and future students.”

Upon completion of the residency this spring Tara will be certified as a Math teacher with an SEI and moderate disabilities endorsement.  She hopes to teach 5th or 6th grade math in BPS next year and is currently interviewing for positions.