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Cross receives funding to expand CREATE program

Assistant Professor Stephanie Behm Cross received a $589,022 Governor’s Office of Student Achievement scaling grant to extend a teacher residency program that supports preservice and inservice teachers working in the Maynard Jackson cluster in Atlanta Public Schools (APS).

Cross serves as principal investigator for the College of Education & Human Development’s portion of the Collaboration and Reflection to Enhance Atlanta Teacher Effectiveness (CREATE) project, initially funded by the U.S. Department of Education to study how residency programs focused on teacher collaboration and reflection can curb new teacher attrition rates in schools serving historically underserved and minoritized groups of children.

With the scaling grant, the three-year teacher residency program will be extended to three more schools in the Maynard Jackson cluster and will allow Cross and her colleagues to foster more collaboration among teachers, principals, district leaders, community members, parents and university faculty.

“We want all of these different groups to be present in each other’s spaces and learn from one another,” said Cross, who wants to see local teachers co-teach college classes, establish monthly meetings with administrators at the district level to gauge how they can support new teachers, and ask parents and families to contribute to the conversation about their children’s education.

In addition, teacher residents and current teachers at these schools will have access to two key features of the CREATE project: Mindfulness training and critical friendship groups. The mindfulness training, coordinated by the Emory-Tibet Partnership, helps teachers better understand their emotions and how they respond to students in their classrooms. The critical friendship groups, facilitated by CEHD faculty members Susan Taylor and Connie Parish, allow teachers and school leaders to meet in groups to “discuss issues of equity and access and help teachers confront any biases they may have,” Cross explained.

The critical friendship groups can take many forms – small group sessions, institutes and/or once a month meetings, depending on each school’s preference – and Cross hopes to see different schools’ groups learning from one another.

Each component of the grant work will give Cross and colleagues Caroline Sullivan, Rhina Williams and Jake Hackett the opportunity to conduct research on how teacher residents; school, district and university educators; and community members interact with one another.

“We’re very excited to continue this work and learn from the multiple stakeholders coming to the table,” she said.