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School of Education Welcomes Largest MAT Cohort Since Program Inception


In fall 2020, SLU's School of Education is serving more than 40 students who are working full-time in local schools while pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) with alternative certification.

This represents a major expansion of the school's successful M.A.T. program.

The M.A.T. was originally created to serve as an in-resident program for the Billiken Teacher Corps (BTC) in 2015. The BTC is now welcoming its sixth cohort of students, who teach full time in local Catholic schools while pursuing the M.A.T. over a two-year window. Since its inception, the BTC has welcomed approximately six new students, recruited from across the country, each year.

New Partnerships

Based on this successful model, School of Education faculty members made the decision to expand this program to partner with public schools in 2020. Specifically, SLU has partnered with schools serving some of the region’s highest-need neighborhoods. Leaders in nine local districts, including St. Louis Public Schools, were willing to partner with the School of Education to bolster the teacher pipeline in their schools.

In addition, new this year, the M.A.T. program has partnered with the national organization, Teach for America, which recruits individuals with undergraduate degrees in content areas to serve in high-needs schools across the nation. In both of these M.A.T. tracks, participants serve as full-time teachers in their own classrooms while simultaneously working on their Master of Arts in Teaching.

2020 M.A.T. Cohort

This year’s cohort is made up of sixteen students in the SLU M.A.T. public program and twelve in the SLU Teach for America program. The programs have attracted students from a wide variety of diverse backgrounds and experiences, including students with undergraduate degrees in biology, English, business, and urban ecology. 

Gary Ritter, Dean of the School of Education, is excited about the new program and the opportunity to contribute to the teacher pipeline in the region. "There is a clear need for a teaching force, in nearly all districts, that is more racially diverse to be more representative of the students they are serving in their classrooms. I am very pleased with the diversity of our MAT cohort so that we can be a part of the solution in meeting the needs of our region’s schools.”

Many of these students have graduated from universities in Missouri such as Washington University, University of Missouri - Saint Louis, and Saint Louis University. Moreover, this program also includes students from locations such as Loyola University in New Orleans, Duke University in North Carolina, and even Université de Nantes in France.

Aliscia Payne
Aliscia Payne, M.A.T. student

For M.A.T. student, Aliscia Payne, the support of her professors has made all the difference. 

"I adore the patient and attentive care I receive from my SLU professors... I watch the team spirit among SLU’s professors and organizational leaders," she said. "When I’m distraught, I’m reminded how strong I am. I find it easier to care for others when being shown a way.”

Similarly, the Teach for America program includes students whose undergraduate studies range from engineering to neuroscience to history. Many of the Teach for America corps members studied at universities in and around Missouri, such as Washington University, University of Illinois - Urbana, and Saint Louis University. The program has also attracted students from universities such as Columbia University in New York, American University in Washington D.C., and Davidson College in North Carolina.

One of the Teach for America students, Richard Beemer, explained his reason for applying to SLU’s program.

“I am drawn to TFA because of its commitment to alleviating educational inequity through developing systems-change leaders," he said. "One critical piece of growing into this vision is a strong, foundational bedrock of education, which has led to my application to SLU’s Master of Arts in Teaching program.”

For more information about the Master of Arts in Teaching with alternative certification program, please contact