Duke’s TeachHouse Combines Teacher Training with Residential Living


A new program at Duke University offers the chance for graduates of the school to pursue a career in education through participation in a two-year living-learning community.

TeachHouse officially launched on September 2, offering housing to 2 veteran teachers and 4 novice teachers.  The program was created with the intention of helping graduates of the teacher preparation program at Duke University successfully transition into classroom life.  By working together with Durham public schools, the program offers guidance to those new to the profession and teaching at local elementary and secondary schools.

“Caring, engaged and effective teachers are a community’s and a nation’s greatest resource,” said Jan Riggsbee, director and co-founder of TeachHouse and associate professor of the practice in the Program in Education. “Public education is at a critical crossroads, and the time is ripe for innovation and problem-solving to meet the many challenges in today’s schools.”

Living in a house together allows the educators the opportunity to “talk shop” about education after a hard day at work.  The house offers support that housemate Benton Wise said has helped improve his performance.

“If I had had the support last year, I believe I would have been a better teacher,” said Wise. “It mainly comes from the support that we get at the TeachHouse. … I can go home to a group of people who understand the challenges we face on a daily basis and help each other problem-solve.”

Educators will live in the house for two years.  The first year offers advice concerning how best to navigate the school, as well as the opportunity to work with faculty and administration in order to determine a critical need at the school, writes Rebecca Klein for The Huffington Post.

Created by Christopher Gergen, CEO of Forward Impact, the goal of the program is to create a staff of high-quality educators who will then stay in Durham.  Gergen previously created a similar program known as ThinkHouse, which offers support to North Carolina entrepreneurs in an effort to help create successful local businesses.  The program has proved successful since its initial launch three years ago.

Gergen said he hopes TeachHouse will become a competitive, “sexy” program that draws more students into the education department at Duke.  He would like to see the students stay in Durham to become active members of the community.

“If you’re going home to a collective house, a lot of you are involved in things going on in the community. There is a greater likelihood that you will have formative experiences that enhance your connection to the community,” said Gergen.

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