Making A Difference


The creation of a great project must have its firsts. For the McCormick Rural Teacher Residency program (MRTR), that first begins with the first resident. Ashley Giordano is a senior education major from Lander University.

Giordano is a transplant to the area from Summerville, SC blazing her own trail to become a leader of several organizations and clubs on campus. MRTR is the brainchild of superintendent Don D. Doggett. His thought was to create an incubator of sorts for rural districts to breed their own teachers.

Rural districts have historically, been a tough sell when recruiting teachers in comparison to the larger districts.  Doggett believes that small rural districts can help themselves, “A way to level the playing field in rural and high needs districts, is to train potential educators within those districts. Familiarity can help with keeping positions full of high quality teachers.”

Teacher residency is an exciting new concept in teacher recruitment, preparation, and support. It is an effective method of recruiting teachers for hard-to-fill positions and giving them a strong year of “on-thejob” training, similar to a medical residency, so that they can hit the ground running when they become responsible for their own classrooms. MRTR is the first rural teacher residency program in the country.

Ashley, the daughter of Timothy and Melissa Giordano, found herself wanting to embrace the unique opportunity to learn and grow from such a unique program. “I did some student teaching in a high needs district before but I was really unsure about working in a rural district. When MRTR came to Lander to recruit, the program sounded challenging but intimidating. I believe it’s why we did not have a lot of students register. No one knew what it would be like.” Even though she grew up with three siblings, Ashly was a shy kid back in school.

“No one noticed me in high school. I was always to myself but I wanted to change that in college.” The three hour move away from home gave her the fresh start she needed to come out of her shell and find her purpose. “I love to teach. I am not in it for the money but to help kids. Everyone is so nice at the elementary school. I believe MRTR will teach me to the skills to make a difference.” Visit for more.

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