Santa Cruz’s New Teacher Center continues to scale up

by Ryan Masters, Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 17, 2016, SANTA CRUZ >>

When Ellen Moir started the Santa Cruz New Teacher Project in 1988 while serving as director of teacher education at UC Santa Cruz, she simply wanted to help recent graduates make a successful transition from student to instructor.

Nearly 30 years later, the outgrowth of that project, the New Teacher Center, reaches 32,000 teachers and 8,000 mentors or instructional coaches nationwide.

Last week, the nonprofit announced it had received a $19.9 million federal Investing in Innovation, or i3, Scale Up grant.

The idea behind the New Teacher Center is simple: Improve student learning by accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers, experienced teachers and school leaders.

More than 400 applications were submitted for the highly sought after i3 grant in 2015, with only 13 recipients selected. The center will use this grant to serve nearly 117,000 K-12 students and more than 1,800 teachers over the next five years, primarily in high-need schools in Florida, New York and California.

“Underserved schools often experience a revolving door of inexperienced new teachers, which can dramatically impact the quality of the education their students receive,” Moir said. “This grant will provide us with the resources to give new teachers the onboarding support they need.”

According to Moir, the New Teacher Center is only the ninth organization to receive the prestigious i3 Scale Up Grant.

“It was an extremely rigorous selection process,” she said. “You have to prove without a shadow of a doubt that the work is having an impact.”

According to Moir, the i3 Scale Up Grant is just the latest in many growth milestones for the project she founded in 1988.

“In 1998, several investors approached me about making the Santa Cruz New Teacher Project into a national center,” Moir said. “I figured if new teachers across the country are struggling as much as those here in Santa Cruz County then it was probably a good idea.”

As a part of UC Santa Cruz, the center became a driving force behind the enhancement of teacher induction strategies. It worked with school districts in 40 states and four countries to implement intensive teacher induction programs.

“In 2009, we spun out of UCSC because we’d gotten so big. The demands for our services just became too high,” Moir said.

Today, the New Teacher Center employs 90 in the center’s new headquarters on Cooper Street in downtown Santa Cruz. Another 85 employees occupy nine offices in cities such as New York City, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Honolulu.

Despite its continued growth and success, the center remains committed to its roots and training teachers in Santa Cruz County.

“UC Santa Cruz did a great job of incubating us,” Moir said. “We were piloted, built, revised and revamped in Santa Cruz County.”

Read the original article on the Santa Cruz Sentinel web site HERE. Photo: New Teacher Center program manager Terri Thillet, right, leads a mentor forum at the organization’s offices in downtown Santa Cruz Wednesday. (Shmuel Thaler — Santa Cruz Sentinel)