Rider partners with Camden Teacher Pipeline to support educators

Rider University students who aspire to work as teachers in an urban setting now have a new opportunity to gain valuable classroom experience and make inroads toward gaining employment thanks to an innovative partnership between the University and the Camden Teacher Pipeline (CTP).

The CTP, whose goal is to attract a greater number of high-quality educators to the New Jersey city, is part of the Camden Education Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating progress in Camden’s public school system.

Rider students who participate in the CTP can benefit from both financial and academic support. This can include a stipend during their full-time student teaching semester and assistance obtaining local housing.

In addition, they can take part in monthly hands-on training sessions led by Relay Graduate School of Education, which is also a Camden Teacher Pipeline partner. The CTP also provides resume support, assistance throughout the application and hiring process, and customized training through their first year as a professional teacher.

“This partnership is beneficial on multiple levels,” says Erica Spence-Umstead, the director of field placement at Rider. “Rider produces many excellent teachers who go on to have successful careers, and if we can help to support underserved communities that are in need of high-quality educators, then that’s a win for society.”

Spence-Umstead adds, “It’s also a great option for our students who have an affinity for working in a city environment and are interested in giving back to a community. This program can help alleviate some financial burdens, as well as offering educational support in addition to what Rider already provides. This is a good fit each way.”

Jonathan Garr, the director of school investments for the CTP, competition. “We are thrilled to partner with Rider University,” he says. “Their commitment to urban education, student success and equity is aligned with the goals of the Camden Teacher Pipeline program. Accordingly, they have been great partners.”

The partnership was several years in the making. Garr initially reached out to Rider’s College of Education and Human Services in early 2020. Spence-Umstead says that while Rider typically places student teachers with a 30-mile radius of campus, they recognized the merits of the program and decided it was worth pursuing.

Despite COVID-related setbacks, Rider professor Peter Hester still arranged for students in his “Teaching Science Social Studies and the Arts” (ELD 376) course to do virtual fieldwork with Camden schools during the year of remote learning. The first cohort with in-person student teaching took place in the fall 2021 semester.

When the partnership began, the CTP was initially focusing on attracting STEM teacher candidates. As the relationship has grown, it has expanded its scope.

“We are happy to accept all Rider University students preparing to become teachers,” says Garr. “There is a high need for teachers of English language learners and special education, so we are especially excited to open this opportunity to those students. Ultimately, our goal is to build a sustainable pipeline of high-potential educators to Camden, New Jersey.”

Spence-Umstead is excited about the future of the partnership. “We started out small, but we anticipate that this will grow into something bigger. The CTP has worked really hard to accommodate the needs of our students, and we’re happy to offer this program as an additional opportunity for future educators to get started on the road to their desired career path.”

Adds Garr, “Our experience with Rider students and faculty has been nothing short of amazing. Faculty and administration have collaborated with us to ensure student-teachers are aware of the Camden Teacher Pipeline and the supports we offer. Also, the student-teachers in our cohort have not only been able to successfully complete their student-teaching, but receive and accept job offers to start their careers in Camden.”

Individuals who would like to learn more about the Camden Teacher Pipeline can contact them directly at [email protected] or Rider’s Office of Field Placement and State Certification at [email protected].

Earnest L. Veasey