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Mercersburg Announces Partnership with University of Pennsylvania Graduate School

Mercersburg Academy is excited to announce a new partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education Independent School Teaching Residency master’s program. 

The program enables aspiring and early career teachers hired through Mercersburg’s fellows program to receive a master’s degree in education while completing an intensive teaching fellowship. 

“The University of Pennsylvania graduate school of education is amazing,” said Associate Head of School for School Life Julia Stojak Maurer ’90, P ’18, ’20, ’22, ’23, ’28 who has benefited from UPenn graduate classes and certificate programs and sees multiple advantages of the partnership, including well-trained faculty versed in the latest pedagogy and a well-connected network. “Our peer institutions that participate in this program have wonderful things to say about the impact on their community, in terms of growth of their teachers, professional development, and access to the latest pedagogy and research.”

As founding director of the Mercersburg fellows program, Maurer first reached out to UPenn in 2015 to inquire about a potential partnership. The UPenn fellows program was founded before Mercersburg’s program and was inaccessible for additional schools. Apart from the schools who were initially accepted into the program, the opportunity remained closed until recently.

Mercersburg’s selection to the program was based on the school’s record of supporting novice educators through an inquiry-based stance, committing to anti-racism and social justice in education, and engaging in innovative conversations and practices about teaching and learning, Charlotte Jacobs, director of the residency program, stated in an email.

For the 2024-25 school year, Mercersburg plans to hire two fellows who will be enrolled in the UPenn graduate program, which features intensive on-site sessions in combination with collaborative online learning.

“The program gives our fellows and mentor teachers another kind of professional network,” Maurer said. “Our fellows will become part of the greater cohort of all the fellows in the UPenn program. Not only do they have access to learning from our faculty here on campus, but they’ll also have access to a network of educators through our partner schools.”

Mercersburg fellows will meet virtually and attend UPenn programs, including a week where they spend time with other fellows at the university. In addition, cohort member schools would have access to each other’s fellows.

“Not only will we be able to hire our own highly trained and educated fellows, we also will be able to connect with the fellows from other institutions where positions may not be open,” Maurer said. “If one of the partner schools has a fellow and Mercersburg has an opening in that discipline, the fellow could become a candidate for the open position. It’s a recruitment strategy for us.”

Mercersburg faculty mentors will be assigned to each fellow and will attend three off-site professional programs, one hosted on the UPenn campus and two hosted at our partner school campuses, opportunities that will enrich veteran teachers who become part of the mentor program.

Dean of Academics Jennifer Smith ’97, P ’23, ’24, who coordinates the Mercersburg fellows program, will facilitate the school’s involvement in the UPenn program.

“Leading the fellows program the past two years has been incredibly rewarding, and I’m excited about this new evolution of the program,” Smith said. “The partnership with University of Pennsylvania will create additional learning opportunities for the fellows and will allow us to align the work we are doing here with established programming from a premier institution.”

Mercersburg’s fellows program has been in existence since 2016. The program follows a two-year plan that includes regular meetings with the dean of academics, classroom teaching with an increasing progression of responsibility over time, and additional assignments related to boarding school, including co-curricular involvement and residential duties.