Alumnae Teach in Urban Education and Gain Master's

By Hannah Walters '17
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

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JBU alumnae Sarah White and Kristie Lotz, 2016 graduates in education, are living their dream and pursuing their calling in urban education in Memphis, Tennessee. The Memphis Teacher Residency (MTR) program has made this possible.

MTR is a four-year commitment that enables new teachers to earn a Master’s in Urban Education from Union University while simultaneously gaining hands-on experience in under-privileged Memphis schools. MTR also provides coaches to new teachers in order to give feedback and one-on-one encouragement to teachers in training. White and Lotz are two of 55 students who are currently in their first year of the residency.

“The program seeks to partner with schools to provide students in Memphis neighborhoods with the same, or better, quality of education as available to any student (regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion, etc.) by recruiting, training and supporting effective teachers within a Christian context,” said White.

White added that serving under-privileged students through the residency program answers the callings that she felt the Lord had put on her heart.

“I am a teacher through and through,” White said. “For me, there is no greater joy than working with students in a classroom. I am beyond thankful the Lord led me to a program that lets me live out my calling and helps me express Christian love in public education.”

For the first year of the residency, White and Lotz spent four days a week in elementary classrooms, interning full-time with current teachers. While in the classroom, they are able to gain experience teaching as well as supporting the current teachers. White and Lotz spent two additional days each week taking intensive graduate-level classes in order to fulfill the requirements for their Master’s degrees.

“It’s a busy schedule,” said White, “but we are getting our master’s in 11 months while doing a full-time internship.”

After completing their graduate degrees, White and Lotz will spend three more years as full-time teachers in Memphis public schools, while still receiving guidance from MTR mentors.

White said that her time at JBU set her up for success in her graduate program and her internship. She is grateful to the Department of Education's faculty for making her into the teacher she is today.

“MTR can be an overwhelming program at points, but I have felt fully prepared and equipped at every turn,” she said.

White said she would encourage any education student who has an interest in urban education and social justice to consider applying for MTR or one of the residency’s summer camp internships. She said what initially drew her to the program was the opportunity it gave her to live out the gospel mandate to love her neighbors as herself through equal education in an urban setting. 

“I am learning more and more great things that never came from comfort zones,” said White. “The fullest life comes from trusting the Lord and following his lead - even if that is just one small step at a time.” 

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