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$1 Million ‘Race to the Top’ Grant to Help Mercer Education Students
Enter Work Force Through Partnership With KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools

August 10, 2011

Media Contact: Mark Vanderhoek, (478) 301-4037 or

ATLANTA – Tift College of Education students will have the opportunity to perform focused student teaching and become KIPP Fellows at KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools through a $1 million grant from Race to the Top funds from Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal (CLA ’64, LAW ’66) announced the winners of a competitive grant program on Monday. The grant, to KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools, will help it create a teacher fellowship program and select future teachers from Mercer’s Tift College of Education and Georgia State University.

The grant’s goal is to help recruit and retain highly effective teachers to work at KIPP Metro Atlanta and traditional public schools throughout the region. The program will provide an intense year-long residency for new high-potential teachers who show great promise to be ready for a full-time teaching position within a year. KIPP Teacher Fellows will be full-time school-based employees, compensated as first-year teachers, with significant responsibilities across KIPP schools.  The first year of the grant will be a planning year with full implementation beginning next school year.

“KIPP Metro Atlanta and Mercer University share a common goal of preparing highly effective teachers to meet the diverse needs of Metro Atlanta students,” said David Jernigan, executive director of KIPP Metro Atlanta. “We have worked with Mercer for several years providing practicum experience and site placement for their education students. We are excited to expand the partnership to a training fellowship opportunity.”

The program will allow selected Mercer students, who are ready to complete their final two semesters of training through the College’s practicum and student-teaching requirements, to spend those semesters working at the KIPP schools, said Dr. Susan Malone, associate dean of the Tift College of Education. Following graduation, the students will then be able to apply to work as teachers through the Teacher Fellows program. The Fellow’s “induction year” will help the graduates by allowing classroom experience, but also mentoring and other educational opportunities that augment that experience, Dr. Malone said.

“This is a great opportunity for our students, as well as our researchers,” said Dr. Carl Martray, dean of the Tift College of Education. “This provides us a great opportunity to research the impacts of extended experience and induction programs, which we know intuitively help create better teachers. There has been little opportunity to study such experiential programs, and we hope it will yield useful data for teacher preparation programs.”

The grant and partnership will also provide opportunities for the Tift College of Education to improve its “pre-service” training methods for students before they enter the work force, said Kaye Thomas, director of field placement for the College. Thomas helped develop the grant application and her office will oversee Mercer’s role in the partnership.

“KIPP is an innovative educational organization whose mission aligns very well with our mission at the Tift College of Education, which is to train highly effective teachers that make an impact in their students’ lives,” said Thomas. “This model will help us evaluate where we go in the future with our pre-service education.”

Georgia’s $400 million Race to the Top plan included a $19 million Innovation Fund to award grants to partnerships between local education authorities or charter schools, institutions of higher education, businesses and nonprofit organizations that develop or implement innovative and high-impact programs aimed at producing positive outcomes for students.
About KIPP Metro Atlanta
KIPP Metro Atlanta is a network of free, public charter schools committed to helping Atlanta students develop the knowledge, skills and character required to succeed in top quality high schools, colleges and the competitive world beyond. There are currently four KIPP middle schools in metro Atlanta and one high school.  In 2012, KIPP Metro Atlanta will begin opening elementary schools. KIPP Metro Atlanta is part of KIPP’s national network of 109 public charter schools serving over 32,000 students in 20 states and Washington, D.C.  For more information, visit or

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,200 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at four regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
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