New program brings more future teachers from Miami to Middletown schools

A new pilot program just started between Miami University and Middletown Schools has education majors from Miami touring the city - pictured here in the historic Sorg Opera House - and in the city's classrooms learning about their future careers. Middletown School officials also hope the program will entice some students to seek jobs in the district after graduation. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)
A new pilot program just started between Miami University and Middletown Schools has education majors from Miami touring the city - pictured here in the historic Sorg Opera House - and in the city's classrooms learning about their future careers. Middletown School officials also hope the program will entice some students to seek jobs in the district after graduation. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

A new program is putting education majors from Miami University into Middletown Schools for their first taste of their coming careers.

And it’s also creating a possible, future teacher applicant pipeline to help staff the city schools.

The state-funded “pilot teacher licensure program” began in February and has 15 Miami students participating.

First up for them was a tour of Middletown’s neighborhoods and some of its history including a walk-through of the historic Sorg Opera House downtown.

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The city-wide visits were all the better to understand the students, their needs and the career opportunities in the 6,300-student city school system, said Middletown School officials.

“MCSD and MU began this partnership with the main goal of introducing teaching candidates to the actual classroom their freshman year in college and participate in a solid field experience,” said Deborah Houser, senior director of Human Resources for the district.

“Middletown Schools offer a special education and traditional classroom blended experience at Rosa Parks Elementary. When the candidates graduate with special education credentials along with their teaching licenses, they will be extremely well rounded and prepared for any classroom.”

And ideally, their first classroom will be within the 10 public schools of Middletown, said Houser.

“Middletown Schools also has the opportunity to meet and recruit these exceptional teachers early in their college years and welcome them with open arms to return for future field experiences and one day as a classroom teacher. The partnership is a win-win for Miami University and Middletown.”

Since the 2017 hiring of Middletown Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr., who has won a number of national awards for his reform efforts of the city schools, the district’s teacher and other staffers’ retention rate has risen each year and now stands at 95 percent.

School officials said at the end of the program, teacher education majors will receive licenses in both elementary and special education, pre-kindergarten through 5th grade, in four years. This spring the Miami pilot group meets at Rosa Parks Elementary every Thursday to learn from teachers, students, and administrators.

Miami University freshman and education major Lindsey Brinkman said she appreciates this first-time program.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s been a nice experience,” said the 19-year-old, who graduated from the suburban Sycamore High School in northern Hamilton County.

“You can learn about different things in education in a classroom setting but going to an actual classroom is a really different experience. I like working with the students and like seeing how much I love teaching,” said Brinkman.

“And it’s made me pretty confident about my decision for an education major.”