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SLU to Partner with St. Patrick’s Catholic School for First Billiken Teacher Corps Cohort in Illinois

by Maggie Rotermund
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Maggie Rotermund
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ST. LOUIS – Since 2015, the Billiken Teacher Corps (BTC) at Saint Louis University has placed new teachers in some of St. Louis’ hardest to staff Catholic schools. Beginning in 2021, the program will send teachers to St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Springfield, Illinois.

Billiken Teacher Corps

A cohort of the Billiken Teacher Corps comes together in prayer. SLU file photo.

This is the first time the BTC has partnered with a school outside of the St. Louis metropolitan area.

“We had the opportunity to visit St. Patrick’s School over the summer,” said Gary Ritter, Ph.D., dean of SLU’s School of Education. “We knew right away that St. Pat’s could be a great fit for us.” 

Ritter said St. Patrick’s serves a community like the communities served by other BTC partner schools. The St. Patrick’s Board of Directors voted unanimously this month to form the partnership with SLU.

“For decades, St. Patrick’s has worked to provide a high-quality, low-tuition education to children in our community,” said Jan Williams, principal of St. Patrick’s. “This partnership will give us the teachers that we need to strengthen and grow our programs. Any young person who wants to teach in a school like St. Pat’s should apply for the Billiken Teacher Corps. We need you.”

The Billiken Teacher Corps recruits recent college graduates who want to teach in underserved communities. Teachers commit to the program for two years. BTC members serve as full-time teachers during the school year and as part-time graduate students, earning a Master of Arts in Teaching from SLU – with full tuition remission – at the end of the program.

The Springfield cohort will start with three or four fellows and grow in coming years. The Billiken Teacher Corps members will take their classes remotely during the school year and do their in-person learning on SLU’s campus over the summer.

The Billiken Teacher Corps provides a stipend, lodging, instructional coaching, faith formation, a school mentor and a University supervisor to all its fellows.

“The BTC is part of a national movement to recruit and train the next generation of Catholic school teachers. The success of our program is measured by the ability of our teachers to be witnesses of faith and instructional leaders,” said Ronny O’Dwyer, S.J., assistant to the dean for Catholic School Initiatives. “We are looking for young people with the spiritual passion and intellectual depth that is needed for the renewal of Catholic education.”

To learn more about the BTC and program requirements, contact Angela Moret at angela.moret@slu.edu. The priority application deadline is Jan. 25, 2021; applications will be rolling after that date. 

About the Billiken Teacher Corps

The Billiken Teacher Corps (BTC) of Saint Louis University is a unique service-learning opportunity for faith-driven college graduates to have a transformative impact in under-resourced Catholic schools in St. Louis, MO and Springfield, IL.    

BTC Fellows live the Jesuit Mission of being men and women for and with others. For two years, the fellows live in an intentional faith community while teaching full time and earning their Master of Arts in Teaching degree with full tuition-remission.

About St. Patrick’s Catholic School

For more than a century, St. Patrick Catholic School has been carrying out its educational mission. St. Patrick School was founded and funded by St. Patrick Parish in 1910. In 2001, St. Patrick School was re-established as a not-for profit corporation which operates under the jurisdiction of the bishop in partnership of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. St. Patrick School is governed by a Board of Directors.

St. Patrick Catholic School serves students from all races, creeds, and religions with small class sizes in grades pre-school to grade five.

St. Patrick School offers more than a century of quality educational experiences and spiritual formation to all its students, through the teaching of a solid curriculum, state-of the art technology and strong Christian values.

Please visit St. Patrick’s Catholic School on Facebook.