Stephen Mucher, Director, Bard Master of Arts in Teaching Program
Each January, students in the Bard Master of Arts in Teaching Program in Central Los Angeles, a one-year graduate program and teaching residency, begin teaching placements in LAUSD schools. City Year corps members may see these new faces appearing now at RFK, Hollenbeck, Roosevelt, and Santee.
We are excited about this important transition after months of graduate coursework. This new placement follows a semester-long position in after-school academic programs at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) service as mentors for high school juniors.
As a history professor and program director, I look forward to this part of the year. By most measures, Bard resident teachers are sufficiently prepared for this big moment. After all, our program is academically selective and residents have prior experience working with LAUSD students. But walking into a school for the first time as a teacher can be challenging, even to the best prepared individuals.
Thanks to City Year, we are now seeing two of our candidates make this transition with remarkable ease. At Roosevelt High School and RFK respectively, Rocio Garcia and Yusuf Bautista have embraced their new identity of classroom teacher with grace and humility—a disposition they call “humble swag.”
As Yusuf explained,
“City Year teaches ‘students first, collaboration always.’ This is my mindset now. I know how to listen and learn from my colleagues.”
Rocio credits City Year for exposing her to a similar diversity in her students.
“Students bring so much into the classroom,” she noted, “and that requires me to keep becoming a teacher who can wear many hats.”
In their graduate school coursework and research projects, Rocio and Yusuf have become pillars of our educational community and they are beginning to make a difference in their LAUSD classrooms. They know to expect the unexpected, how to relate to students, and how to empathize with the difficult work of teachers. When they graduate in June with a master’s degree and a California single subject credential, we expect they will move immediately into extended careers as LAUSD teachers.
It is a privilege to see City Year alums like Rocio and Yusuf continue this career in public service. Their work matters to a generation of LAUSD students who deserve great teachers. And it clearly draws from lessons learned at City Year.