MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Every Tuesday, as part of our Community Changers series, we highlight organizations making Memphis better. This week, we catch up with a group that offers a tuition-free master’s degree in teaching as one of their benefits.

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Brendae McKinney is in her first year of the Memphis Teacher Residency program. “I want to be a teacher because I know the value of someone who desires to help others learn. Literacy is the start of how we can acquire knowledge, retain knowledge and then use that knowledge to impact our lives in the world.”

McKinney says having a teacher as a mentor was really impactful, and getting a free master’s degree caught her eye. “A master’s in teaching is a very big thing.”

MTR is an organization that aims to address inequities within education in Memphis. They recruit and train teachers in a Christian context to ensure principals in partner neighborhoods like Binghampton, Graham Heights, Orange Mound, Frayser, Mitchell Heights and Douglass have high-quality teacher applicants.

“If you look at ACT scores in those neighborhoods, compared to other neighborhoods around, there’s a huge gap,” said Cullen Johnson, the residency director. “Our course work is tailored to teach in under-resourced neighborhoods.”

It’s a four-year program with your first year in teacher residency. Plus, you commit to teaching for three years in Memphis in one of their partner neighborhoods. In addition to your master’s, other benefits include housing and a monthly stipend.

“One of the biggest parts of our program is in the residency year, they have a coach who is supporting them weekly to give them feedback and to grow in their practice. That coaching experience extends throughout their four years of commitment,” said Johnson.

That is why Brown Missionary Baptist Church wanted to give MTR $1,000 because teachers have the biggest impact on students. Equipping them with the knowledge to meet the needs of the students is vital.

A true community changer.

For more information about MTR, click here.