First Interim Dean of Phillips Academy’s Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) Chera Reid fell in love with IRT’s educational values and mission to increase diversity among teachers; then, last week, she was appointed as the new Dean of IRT. Executive Director of IRT Kelly Wise selected Ms. Reid for the position after conducting a national search. An IRT alumna herself, Ms. Reid has worked with the IRT program for the past three years and served as the Interim Dean for the past year. As the Dean of IRT, Ms. Reid will be responsible for directing the program’s work with students, counseling students, reporting to the IRT advisory board, and representing the program nationally. After graduating from IRT, Ms. Reid came back to Phillips Academy to teach in (MS)2, a renowned summer program for minority students interested in math and science. In addition to her work at IRT, Ms. Reid serves as a house counselor in Double Brick House and an academic advisor. She holds a BA in English and African American Studies from the University of Virginia and an MA in Higher Education Administration from the University of Michigan. The IRT program was founded in 1990 to train talented minority college students to become teachers, serving to increase the diversity of America’s teaching staff. It works with 100 students in a year-long course, beginning in the spring. According to Ms. Reid, IRT is the only program of its type based in a private secondary school. She said, “In many ways our outreach programs turn our private school into a public purpose.” These 100 students are selected from a pool of over 300 hopeful applicants. The students are minorities and rising college seniors, or graduates who demonstrate a passion for education. The prospective students are expected to have a minimum GPA of 3.0, but their average GPA is about 3.5. Students must also submit letters of recommendation from their college professors and essays expressing their desire to be a teacher. While at IRT, the students attend lectures, seminars, and workshops to learn more about the educational field. IRT also helps its students to apply and pay for graduate school. All IRT graduates receive at least one full scholarship offer from a university. Over 43 schools are part of the IRT consortium. Top schools such as Brown University, Harvard University, Duke University, and the University of Chicago often pursue IRT graduates. Since its foundation, over 800 IRT alumni have taken careers in elementary, secondary, and college teaching. According to Ms. Reid, there are 63 active alumni teaching in schools around the country, nine of whom are principals or assistant principals. Some of these alumni return to IRT over the summer to speak to current students. “I am energized as I witness IRT students pursue their highest potential as outstanding educators in our nation’s schools and colleges where they are needed most,” said Ms. Reid.
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