AFT Grants Stipend to East Side and University High School Students in the Red Hawks Rising Teacher Academy Program


[Newark, NJ - February 15, 2022] What started as a conversation in 2019 to create a pipeline of internal teacher candidates by developing them from the high school student population has now come to fruition due to the continuous dedication and groundwork of Superintendent Roger León, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Randi Weingarten, and recently appointed President of Montclair State University (MSU), Jonathan Koppell. A meaningful course of action was decided upon that evolved into the Red Hawks Rising Teacher Academy implemented at East Side and University High Schools. The program is strategically centered to benefit the students, the district, and the community while at the same time, helping to address the constant challenge of teacher shortages.

Superintendent Roger León was excited to see the dream become a reality. He shared, “We are redefining education in Newark by creating something for the next decade and we are doing it simultaneously as our students are preparing for their futures.”

The Red Hawks Rising Teacher Academy is a dual enrollment program, with a student cohort at East Side and another at its magnet school partner, University High School. Montclair State University (MSU) serves as its post-secondary education partner and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) as its industry partner. The two high schools have been working together since 2019 to ensure that Newark Public Schools has a pathway for students with a passion for teaching that inspires future educators and advocates for social justice and one day return to the district as full-time employees.

Yesterday, February 14, 2022, at East Side High School, an announcement was made of providing a stipend for participants of the program. Joined by Superintendent León were both partners of the program, Koppell, President of MSU, and Weingarten, President of AFT. Students who complete the program in the spring will receive a stipend of $1200 and those students who complete the program in the summer will receive a stipend of $2500, generosity of the AFT. Weingarten said, “We thought the most important thing we could do, is to create the conditions that allow you to make a difference in the lives of others.”

The start of the dual enrollment courses is to begin in the spring of 2022. Students who are juniors and enrolled in their third year of the Academy will start taking dual enrollment courses. When complete, they will have earned 30 college credits. Each year will offer a different Work-Based Learning (WBL) experience in an elementary school within the district. This year, the Academy students will be working with 6th-grade classes at Oliver Street Elementary School and 8th-grade classes at Ann Street Elementary School.

“At Montclair State University, we have a long history of training and preparing teachers. I am excited about the future of our program's participants as they venture into becoming teachers because they are going to be in a position to do something that gives extra special meaning to their own lives,” said President Koppell.

During yesterday’s announcement, Superintendent León took the time to restate his commitment to issuing contracts to all students who complete the program and all requirements to become a teacher.