In only its 23rd year, Andover’s Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) celebrated its 235th alumnus who was conferred a doctorate of philosophy this past week.
An educational outreach program based at Andover, IRT counsels undergraduate students interested in a career in education and helps aspiring teachers of color matriculate into graduate programs nationwide. IRT was founded in 1990 by Dr. Kelly Wise, Executive Director of IRT.
“What’s even more significant is that we know the majority of those 235 alums are pursuing careers already as college faculty members or administrators, so they are not only completing the doctorate, but also moving into the positions that we had hoped,” said Asabe Polomo, Director of IRT.
Approximately 100 undergraduate students are accepted into IRT every year, 30 of whom participate in a four-week program at Andover during summer session. The students take graduate-level courses in education and receive counseling throughout the application and financial aid processes for graduate school, according to the press release on the Andover website.
IRT staff members travel to approximately 70 colleges nationwide, including public universities, tribal colleges and minority-serving institutions, to recruit students for the program. The colleges that the IRT works with agree to give financial support to the students. The IRT also covers application fees and participation expenses.
“In particular we try to target black and Latino males because we believe that they are a group even more underrepresented in education. We also host online information sessions using webinars and video conferencing, such as Skype, to reach out to interested applicants that attend institutions that we may not reach,” said Polomo.
The IRT is the only organization in the nation that focuses on the transition point for students between undergraduate and graduate program, according to Polomo.
Polomo added, “At Phillips Academy, I believe the students are attracted to [Andover] because of the quality of teaching. The kind of rigor that comes with the quality of the Phillips Academy education is unique and unfortunately the best of it only exists at the private schools to which most of America does not have access to. Our commitment is to leverage the model of excellence that exists here and is supported unanimously by the administration at other public institutions.”
“Our work is really, very supportive of students who already bring a set of critical lens to issues in education and a commitment to advancing diversity aims as well as improving social justice in education. So I hope that what the IRT does for them is not only support those ideals, but also help them to see how they can pursue those ideals [and achieve] actual tangible goals,” said Polomo.