In order to be eligible to teach in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, corps members are required to pass a Subject Area Test and a General Knowledge Test prior to the start of the school year. Upon successful completion and passing of both exams, our teachers can obtain a temporary certificate that is valid for three years.
All corps members must work to obtain their professional teaching certificate while in the corps. The professional certificate is a five year, renewable certificate for educators. Miami-Dade corps members have two options for seeking professional certification: the Alternative Professional Preparation Program (AP3) or the Master’s in Education and Social Change through the University of Miami. The AP3 program is a free program offered to educators in Miami-Dade County and takes roughly two years to complete. The Master’s in Education and Social Change through the University of Miami begins the spring of a corps member’s first year and completes the summer of their second year. Corps members may use their AmeriCorps education award for the University of Miami’s master’s program.
Corps members may also choose to pursue a masters through John’s Hopkins. John’s Hopkins Master of Science in Education is a two year online program which corps members may pursue for a master’s degree. Please note that this program does not currently lead to professional certification through Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
For the past six years at Holmes Elementary, Teach For America corps members have been teaching in each grade level from first through fifth. Two years ago, we analyzed our data and discovered that students who had corps members as teachers for multiple years significantly outperformed their peers on the FCAT reading exam. While the average passing rate for fifth graders at the school was 26 percent, the passing rate for fifth graders who had corps members as teachers for four years was 83 percent, and 72 percent for those who had corps members as teachers for three years.
The faculty and administration at Holmes Elementary, as well as the parents and the students themselves, were proud of these results and their students' work. Based on these findings, we recognize the amplified positive impact our corps members as a group can have on school culture, teacher and principal satisfaction, and, most importantly, student achievement. Looking ahead, we are working to cluster multiple corps members at single school sites throughout the region so that many more Miami-Dade students will achieve the same level of success as their peers at Holmes.
In the early 2000s, the warehouse neighborhood just north of Midtown Miami began to come to life. Interior designers moved in, followed by retailers and restaurants, and The Design District was born. Despite the presence of high-end establishments and an influx of luxury condominiums, the neighborhood remains an interesting socioeconomic and ethnic mix, and affordable apartments can be found in close proximity to all the area has to offer.
The nearby Wynwood Arts District is the center of Miami's art scene in the midst of what was formerly a Puerto Rican neighborhood. Like the Design District, the community in Wynwood continues to be quite diverse, and the Puerto Rican influence persists. These centrally-located Midtown neighborhoods offer corps members an excellent home base from which to commute to their schools and explore their new city. Teach For America's Miami-Dade office is also located in Midtown.