New teacher residency program seeks to address teacher shortage

For Immediate Release: 10/11/22

 Press contact: Lindsay Tice, USM Public Affairs Associate,, (cell) 207-838-8087

New teacher residency program seeks to address teacher shortage

Led by the University of Southern Maine, the Maine Teacher Residency Program is available to college students across the state and possible thanks to federal funding secured by Sens. Collins and King.

PORTLAND, Maine —  Aspiring teachers throughout Maine can now get paid to teach while they continue taking classes for their degree and certification. 

Nearly 40 college students will participate in the new Maine Teacher Residency Program this fall, with 70 more slots open next year. The unique program is administered by the University of Southern Maine, but it is open to education students throughout the University of Maine System and to students from other Maine colleges, as well as to new teachers who are emergency or conditionally certified. 

In this new program, school systems hire the students to teach as ed techs, long-term substitute teachers, or classroom teachers for the full school year. Schools provide mentors and pay students a regular salary. Students, in return, fill needed positions, get on-the-job training and experience, receive the support of a mentor, and get paid by the school system. They also receive a $3,500 scholarship from the Residency Program to go toward tuition. 

“You feel supported by your mentor. . . and you learn to adapt and grow with a class that looks at you like you are their teacher just as much as your mentor is,” said Alexis Howe, a USM senior majoring in Elementary Education and a resident teaching first grade at the Biddeford Primary School. “The residency program has allowed me to worry less about finances and focus more on becoming the educator I want to be for my students.”

Nearly two dozen school systems have hired Teacher Residents this fall. Those school systems include: Bangor, Biddeford, Lewiston, SAD 6, SAD, 27, SAD 17, SAD 28, SAD 72, Portland, RSU 2, RSU 10, RSU 13, RSU 16, RSU 24, RSU  25, RSU 34, RSU 71, SAD 52, Sanford, Scarborough, and Westbrook. 

“Resident Interns who complete the year-long internship are well prepared for a successful year as a first year teacher,” said Mandy Cyr, a member of the program’s advisory board and Director of Instruction and Innovation for the Biddeford school system, which piloted the Residency Program and now has eight residents at its elementary schools.

The program is funded by nearly $1 million in Congressionally Directed Spending, known commonly as an earmark, that Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King secured in the federal FY22 budget at the request of the University of Maine System and that is being administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Residency Program’s goal is to address Maine’s teacher shortage in the short-term by filling needed positions with student-teachers and supporting not-yet-certified teachers. It hopes to address the shortage in the long-term by providing aspiring teachers with the support and training they need to be successful educators. 

“Well prepared teachers remain in the classroom,” said Flynn Ross, Associate Professor in USM’s Extended Teacher Education Program and Administrator for the Residency Program. 

Participating universities include the University of Southern Maine, University of Maine, University of Maine at Augusta, University of Maine at Farmington, and the University of Maine at Presque Isle. 

The Residency Program is one of several across the University of Maine System aimed at addressing teacher and school administrator shortages in the state. Other examples include fully-online graduate programs; CONTAACT-ME, a five-year UMaine initiative that will help 40 to 45 graduate students earn master’s degrees in special education with an early childhood intervention focus; and the Maine SEEDS program, a partnership between the University of Maine System and the Maine Department of Education that provides mentorship and resources to early career and conditionally certified special educators working in Maine schools.

Situated in Maine’s economic and cultural center, the University of Southern Maine (USM) is a public university with 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students taking courses online and at campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn. Known for its academic excellence, student focus and engagement with the community, USM provides students with hands-on experience that complements classroom learning and leads to employment opportunities in one of the nation’s most desirable places to live.