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Fifth grade math teacher Sam Rather
Fifth grade math teacher Sam Rather

Fifth grade math teacher Sam Rather will start this school year thinking only one thing, "100 percent." Last year, 98% of his math class passed the Maryland Scholastic Assessment Math Test and those remaining two percentage points have been bugging him all summer. "I want it to be 100% this year," said Rather, a third year teacher at William Paca Elementary School in Baltimore City and a recent Johns Hopkins School of Education alumnus.

Rather's dedication is shared by more than 130 fellow Johns Hopkins School of Education teachers who were placed this fall in Baltimore City Schools, making up 20% of new teachers in the system. "Our primary focus is to prepare highly qualified pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers who engage research-based practices to ensure successful learning for students, particularly in some of the most challenged urban schools," said Frank Masci, chair of the university's Department of Teacher Preparation at the School of Education.

Given Rather's success story and many others similar to his, this year's incoming class will have a hard act to follow. Will they be up to the challenge? "It's hard being a first-year teacher," said Rather, who started teaching at Baltimore's William Paca Elementary while a student at Johns Hopkins. "Preparation, perseverance, and caring for your students are the keys." Rather inherited a 78% math pass rate, and increased it to 95% his first year, and 98% this past year. Not only will Rather have a chance to reach his goal of 100% this year, he'll also have the opportunity to lead the entire Paca math team as an instructional support teacher. "It's all about identifying and sharing best practices," said Rather.

The Johns Hopkins School of Education, which is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), offers courses at three campuses - Homewood, Columbia, and Montgomery County - and awards more than 500 master's degrees in education annually.

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