Teachers earn degree while serving at-risk youth in Manchester schools through AmeriCorps

Future educators can earn their master’s degrees while serving as AmeriCorps members in Manchester, New Hampshire middle and high schools. This gives the college students experience teaching at-risk youth, while earning a stipend and their degree.

This collaboration between Goodwill AmeriCorps and Southern New Hampshire University is named Manchester Excels.

“Manchester was specifically chosen because it is one of the most under-resourced and largest districts in New Hampshire,” said Jenifer Craven, AmeriCorps senior program manager.   

Members are placed into classrooms to help increase students’ understanding of that subject’s academic language, Craven said.   

The program uses a cohort model, meaning students complete a set curriculum with the same group of peers.   

More than 40 students graduated from the program so far; most of them became licensed teachers. Around 20 of the graduates now teach in Manchester schools. The program’s fourth cohort graduates in June of 2024.   

Manchester Excels making an impact 

Cecilia Martins graduated from the first Manchester Excels cohort. Martins started her career in a different field, but realized she wanted to be a teacher. The program helped her further define her goals and establish her teaching style.  

A graduate of the Manchester school district herself, Martins now teaches sixth-grade social studies in Manchester.  

“I was a student at Manchester High School West, and I just loved it, especially in comparison to coming from a small town, so I knew that’s where I wanted to work,” Martins said. “I also knew I wanted to do a good job and have a good impact on these students who I had this kind of care for and desire to work with.”  

When Martins came across the program, she thought it was perfect for her and her goals. She immediately signed up.  

“The impact this has had on my life is that I’m able to have a great career where I feel really confident in what I’m doing,” she said. “I feel ready to tackle the challenges throughout the school day or school year that comes to me because I have such a strong background thanks to my degree at SNHU.” 

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