VCU Center for Teacher Leadership receives $7.5 million grant to expand teacher residency model

Terry Dozier, Ed.D.
Terry Dozier, Ed.D.

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education’s Center for Teacher Leadership has been awarded a $7.5 million grant to refine and expand its Richmond Teacher Residency program, and to evaluate the program’s impact on teacher retention and student achievement in critical shortage areas within Richmond Public Schools. Terry Dozier, Ed.D., is the program director and will be leading this effort.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded the highly competitive Teacher Quality Partnership grant as part of a $35 million project to improve student achievement by supporting partnerships between universities and high-need school districts. Such partnerships will advance the recruitment, training and support of teachers, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and special education.

“The grant will allow us to focus on retaining teachers, but also looking at student outcomes, which are ultimately the most important goal,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “The Richmond Teacher Residency program is a stunning example of what we do at VCU: We want our students to be engaged in ways that give them the opportunity to apply what they learn and see how other people can benefit immediately in the community from what they are doing.”

“Creating a sustainable pipeline of highly effective new teachers who are committed to Richmond Public Schools for the long term is critical to improving student achievement,” said Dozier, who is director of the Center for Teacher Leadership. “The Teacher Quality Partnership grant will allow us to continue our work in recruiting, preparing and supporting outstanding new teachers through a year-long, medical-style residency in which residents co-teach alongside a master RPS teacher who serves as a Clinical Resident Coach (CRC) or mentor. This innovative, school-based approach to preparing teachers improves the retention and effectiveness of both new and veteran teachers.”

The Richmond Teacher Residency Program addresses the unique challenges of preparing teachers for urban education – both at the secondary level and at all levels for those preparing to teach special education (K-12). Individuals with strong grade point averages and a passion to level the playing field are recruited into the program and make a four-year commitment that includes a year of residency and three years of urban school teaching.  

Urban teachers need additional skills and knowledge about their students, families and communities in order to be successful.

“Urban teachers need additional skills and knowledge about their students, families and communities in order to be successful,” said Christine S. Walther-Thomas, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education. “The RTR program gives teachers the opportunity to create networks of support for themselves and their students.”

The grant was announced last week just one day before Sen. Tim Kaine visited T.C. Boushall Middle School to observe the RTR program in action and discuss its importance to Richmond Public Schools. Kaine, co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, recently introduced the bipartisan Creating Quality Technical Educators Act, which would apply the model used by the Richmond Teacher Residency program to create CTE-focused partnerships across the country.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see