Rowan Claypool ’80 said he hopes that every child in Jefferson County, Ky., will one day have the chance to be inspired by a teacher who graduated from Yale.
Claypool’s program, Teach Kentucky, is designed to attract graduates from top-tier universities to teach in Kentucky’s public schools. Two Yale graduates currently teach in the program, which Claypool plans to expand this year. The list of schools the program recruits from now also includes Harvard, Duke and Vanderbilt.
Claypool will be on campus Nov. 4-5 to recruit seniors for next year’s program.
“We are seeking highly motivated liberal arts folks that don’t quite know what they want to do yet,” he said.
He said his presentations often include a personal touch.
“I want you to teach my son. He’s in the fourth grade,” Claypool said he frequently says.
During the required two-year commitment, Teach Kentucky participants will receive their master’s deagrees in teaching from the University of Louisville and will complete the core requirements for Kentucky’s teaching certification.
The program grew out of Bulldogs in the Bluegrass, a summer internship program Claypool started to bring Yale students to Louisville. About 40 students participate each summer.
Claypool said the program offers a variety of benefits to attract graduates. Among them are transitional housing — with the Bulldogs over the summer — and a relocation incentive of $1,000. The program also pays for half of the master’s degree tuition, about $3,800.
There are currently two Yale graduates, Susan Gaunt ’02 and Carlo Ellard DIV ’02, teaching in Kentucky under Claypool’s program. The goal is to increase that number to around 10 or 15 total students from the four participating universities, Claypool said.
Young and talented teachers are a very valuable asset to the school systems, Claypool said.
“They’re the ones that can be coaches and sponsor clubs after school,” he said.
Jeff Brenzel, executive director of the Association of Yale Alumni, said the program benefits the community as a whole.
“Teach Kentucky is a logical extension of the Bulldogs program goals — creating a win-win for Yale students, Yale alumni and the local community,” Brenzel said.
Philip Jones, director of Undergraduate Career Services, said education is the largest field Yale students enter after college. He said there is a large need for programs to put graduates into teaching programs.
At the same time, Kentucky’s schools are suffering from a “need for good quality teachers,” said Claypool.
The program is designed as a “convenient mechanism” to put students searching for jobs after graduation into teaching positions where they are badly needed, Claypool said.
Claypool said his long term goal is to attract Yale graduates to live in and around Louisville. In a few years he hopes that there will be a strong base of alumni familiar with his program to help it grow even more, he said.