On a Mission in the Mission

USF to fund student teachers at underserved schools

By SAYANTIKA MANDAL Posted Wed, 05/01/2019 - 08:19

In a city that cries out for more bilingual and STEM teachers in its public schools, the San Francisco Teacher Residency program —  a partnership between USF, Stanford, San Francisco Unified School District, and the UESF teachers union — has won a $400,000 grant to attract and train those very teachers.

The grant from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing will provide stipends for seven USF student teachers this fall, says Jaime Colly, co-director of the SFTR, a part of USF's master's in teaching with credential program. "Those student teachers, in turn, will help young people in local schools."

SFTR places student teachers, called "residents," in schools where they teach historically underserved students. Today, SFTR has 12 residents. The residents from USF pay 60 percent of USF’s normal tuition fee and receive an annual $15,000 living stipend and medical coverage for the resident year.

The residents spend four to five hours a day teaching in classrooms, and often are offered full-time jobs at the schools in which they teach. One resident-turned-teacher is Rosalinda Hernandez Baquier MAT ’15 of Buena Vista Horace Mann (BVHM) school in the Mission District. She’s been teaching there for five years after spending one year as a resident.

Education through understanding

Many of Hernandez Baquier's students struggle in school because they struggle outside of school. Often, their parents are homeless or deal with immigration issues, she said. The students are shuttled from grandmothers to aunts to other relatives. They live in cramped apartments and babysit their younger siblings at night.

For some, school is the only place that gives them a sense of safety and security and makes them feel valued, Hernandez Baquier said.

“What they need most,” she said, “is a teacher who can make them feel heard, felt, and seen.”

For Hernandez Baquier, it was USF that instilled in her the confidence that she tries to build in her own students.

I felt like I couldn’t fail. I had so many people rooting for me, supporting me, and being there to catch me when I fell. I felt safe, and that transferred into my teaching because I always felt so confident."

She still goes to her professors and classmates with questions and calls them her family.

Before enrolling at USF, Hernandez Baquier was working at an afterschool program in the Mission District when the principal urged her to apply to the SFTR program. SFTR’s emphasis on classroom teaching appealed to Hernandez Baquier.

“SFTR helped us put the theory we learned into use,” she said.

Giving back to the community

As a Latina who grew up in the Mission and whose mother is from El Salvador, Hernandez Baquier said that teaching at BVHM is the best way to give back.

My school keeps me here. There’s no other school I could teach at and feel like I feel. I’m giving back to the community that made me. This is the place where my mom grew up, where I grew up, (where) we struggled, and now we have a soft spot for the Mission."