A new collaboration between the University of Maryland and the state’s two largest school districts will create innovative training opportunities for education students, bolster professional development and promote equity across Maryland public schools.

The Maryland Professional Development Schools 2025 project is a cooperative effort by the College of Education, Montgomery County Public Schools and Prince George’s County Public Schools, supported by a $2.3 million grant from the state Department of Education.

Its goal is to come up with effective classroom strategies and mentoring techniques for interns and young teachers, as well as new career ladders and pay incentives that help retain quality educators. The two school districts together hired 6,800 new teachers from 2016 to 2018.

College faculty, local administrators and experienced teachers will address challenges such as improving assessments and the use of technology and supporting English language learners.

“The collaborative provides an opportunity to work with local educators and school leaders to design and implement new approaches in a few demonstration sites, iron out all the wrinkles, and ultimately scale solutions that work across all schools and districts in the state,” said Jennifer King Rice, dean of the College of Education.

A Mentor Teacher Academy kicks off this week, with 20 new teachers invited from the four participating schools: Olney Elementary and Farquhar Middle in Montgomery County and Buck Lodge Middle and High Point High in Prince George’s County. 

“We know strong professional practice is critical to the development of our future teacher workforce,” said Jack Smith, Montgomery County schools superintendent. “Our affiliation with UMD aims at developing and nurturing educators who are able to work in diverse environments and navigate the increasing complexities that have influenced the landscape of our classrooms.”

Among other needs, the program will tackle those challenges spotlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including robust remote-teaching strategies and resources for teaching anti-racism in two of the nation’s most diverse school systems. 

“This partnership will set standards for mentor teacher professional development and learning outcomes that collectively increase our focus on student success," said Monica Goldson, CEO of Prince George's County Public Schools.