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High-School 'Teaching Academy' To Open in Ohio

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School officials in Columbus, Ohio, last month began recruiting 8th graders to attend a new magnet program for students who have an interest in the teaching profession.

When it opens in September at Northland High School, the Columbus "teaching academy" will be the first magnet program of any kind for that urban district and one of only a handful of such programs for students interested in teaching nationwide.

Supported with a $75,000 grant from the Metropolitan Life Foundation, the project is being undertaken jointly by the Columbus Public Schools and nearby Ohio State University.

Robert Stamps, principal of the comprehensive high school where the new program will be housed, said school officials hope to attract 50 stu4dents from across the district each year to attend the academy.

Besides having a desire to teach, the students who participate must have a 2.0 grade point average, according to Mr. Stamps. He said efforts are also being made to ensure that the student body is ethnically diverse.

The academy's pupils will be exposed to a wide variety of teaching experiences and pedagogical studies. According to Mr. Stamps, they will be given opportunities to do tutoring, work with practicing teachers in the field, and observe classrooms.

"When they finish pursuing this in four years," he said, "they will have a pretty good idea whether they want to be in education, rather than having to find that out for themselves in their junior or senior year of college."

The program's primary goal is to alleviate a shortage of teachers--particularly those who are members of minority groups--in the school system. Coordinators contend that the program will help the district essentially "grow its own" teachers.

"We can't assume that we can recruit a more diverse population into teaching by reaching only those students who decide to come to college," said Nancy Zimpher, an associate professor of education at Ohio State University. Ms. Zimpher is helping coordinate the magnet-school program, along with several other Ohio State faculty members and two teachers from the district.

"What we need to do," Ms. Zimpher said, "is capture some very talented young people in junior high and high school and assist them through high school and college.''--dv

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