Gov. Ralph Northam proclaims today ‘RTR Day’

The proclamation recognizes a VCU School of Education program that recruits, trains and supports teachers for four Richmond-area school divisions.

Grace Giampietro teaching in a classroom of students. [View Image] Grace Giampietro, an RTR graduate, teaches a third grade special education class at Linwood Holton Elementary School in 2016. (File photo by Julia Rendleman, University Marketing)

Gov. Ralph Northam issued a proclamation designating today as “RTR Day” in recognition of RTR Teacher Residency, a graduate program at the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University that recruits, trains and supports teachers for high-needs and hard-to-staff schools.

RTR, which was originally called Richmond Teacher Residency, and is marking a decade since its launch, serves four school divisions: Chesterfield County Public Schools, Henrico County Public Schools, Petersburg Public Schools and Richmond Public Schools. Teacher residents earn a VCU graduate degree, receive a Virginia teacher’s license and complete a year of experience co-teaching with a mentor teacher.

“It is immensely rewarding to be recognized by Governor Northam for the cutting-edge work we have been doing over the past decade to recruit, prepare and support diverse, highly effective teachers for historically under-resourced communities,” said Therese A. Dozier, Ed.D., executive director of RTR and director of the Center for Teacher Leadership at VCU. “This recognition is a testament to the hard work and dedication of many people — VCU School of Education faculty, RTR staff, host school principals, mentor teachers, and most importantly, our extraordinary residents and graduates who represent the best of our profession. They are making a difference every day by lifting up our communities from inside the classroom.”

Andrew Daire, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education, said he is “extremely proud of the outstanding work by our RTR program and the exemplary leadership Dr. Dozier has provided.”

“This truly is a model program that we know continues to positively impact our surrounding school divisions and its schoolchildren through the preparation of high-quality teachers,” Daire said. From left: Andrew Daire, Ph.D., Therese A. Dozier, Ed.D., Kathy Burcher; and Raynell Reid. [View Image]
From left: Andrew Daire, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education; Therese A. Dozier, Ed.D., executive director of RTR; Deputy Secretary of Education Kathy Burcher; and Raynell Reid, special projects manager for RTR. Photo by Owen Wachter, School of Education.

Northam’s proclamation says RTR is an exceptional program because it “supports the retention of extraordinary, inspiring teachers and teacher leaders who are committed to social justice and the disruption of educational inequities for systemically underserved populations.”

The proclamation goes on to highlight that the retention rate of first-year teachers is 34% higher among RTR graduates than non-RTR graduates, that 73% of RTR graduates have been rated by principals as more effective than other teachers with comparable experience, and that students of RTR graduates significantly outperformed those of non-RTR graduates on the 2019 Standards of Learning English, math and social studies tests.

It also notes that RTR has prepared 219 teachers, served 56 schools, trained 151 mentors, and served 15,000 students. And that the National Council for Teacher Quality ranked RTR in the top 99 percentile of the nation’s alternative route teacher preparation programs.

Additionally, RTR was one of three programs highlighted recently by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education as a national model for school districts to address the challenges of hiring, recruiting and retaining quality teachers amid severe labor market shortages.

Deputy Secretary of Education Kathy Burcher presented the proclamation to RTR and the School of Education on Thursday.

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