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The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has become the latest community partner to adopt one of Hamilton County Schools' 20 Future Ready Institutes. The university's School of Education has agreed to sponsor one of the institutes at Tyner Academy.

Newly branded the UTC Teaching and Learning Institute, the Future Ready option is dedicated to preparing high schoolers for a career in the field of education.

Future Ready Institutes challenge the traditional approach to education in high schools by developing career-themed small learning communities. Themes include medicine, robotics, forensic science, engineering, hospitality, technology, business, marketing and more.

As part of the partnership with UTC, Tyner students will have the chance to tour the college's campus, visit classes and meet with students currently enrolled at the university to learn about their experience. Each senior in the Tyner institute will also be matched with a mentor from UTC's faculty and staff to help them navigate the application process and gain insight into applying for scholarships and financial aid.

Students who meet the university's admissions requirements and choose to enroll at UTC after they graduate from the institute's four-year program will also receive credit for the "Foundation of Education" course required for all education majors, giving them a leg up on their peers.

"This, to me, is one of our most exciting opportunities," said Renee Murley, director of UTC's School of Education. "To see students excited about furthering their education, to see that they are envisioning themselves going to college and becoming teachers and giving back to their community — that cycle, for me, is just really exciting to see."

UTC will be expected to provide $50,000 per year through monetary or in-kind contributions, according to the memorandum of understanding between the university and the school district.

While beneficial for the students, Murley said the partnership will also be a win for the School of Education because it will help the department increase the number of teachers of color within Hamilton County Schools, which is one of the department's long-term goals.

"It is important for us ... to continuously think about that teacher pipeline and how we can ensure that teachers are coming into the field and coming back into Hamilton County's classrooms," she said.

The UTC Teaching and Learning Institute is the fourth branded institute to be sponsored by a community partner. EPB backs the Technology and Networking Institute at Tyner; Bryan College has committed to an Institute for Leadership, Business and Marketing at East Hamilton Middle/High School; and Erlanger Health System was the first to partner up through its sponsorship of the Health Sciences Institute at The Howard School.

"Community partners are vital to the success of Future Ready Institutes in Hamilton County Schools, and UTC is a welcome addition to our efforts to train future teachers," Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson said in a statement. "Future Ready Institutes are key learning opportunities in our schools today that will open doors to exciting possibilities for our graduates and our community."

Teachers of all content areas at schools selected to house various institutes work closely with the career-theme teacher to provide even routine classroom instruction through the lens of a career. The goal is for students to clearly understand why a lesson is important and how they will use the information in the future.

Tyner and UTC will host a formal induction ceremony to commemorate the new partnership Feb. 8.

Email Myron Madden at mmadden@timesfreepress.com

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