Is the RTR program for me?

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Is this for me?

Is becoming an RTR resident the right move for you?  Do you have the heart for urban teaching?  Are you willing to commit your next four years to Richmond Public Schools?  Are you ready to take this next step?

This reflective component will help you decide whether you are a good RTR candidate before you enter the extensive application process. RTR is a demanding program, and it is not for everyone and that is okay.  You might be called to teach but not called to urban teaching.  Discerning the difference is the key.  Go through these questions with an open mind and if you find that you are checking “no” to more than one or two questions, then RTR may not be a good fit for you.

The Grit
RTR is an intensive, multifaceted, four-year program designed to equip and support you as you teach in Richmond Public Schools (RPS). The first year of the program is fast paced and the timeline is non-negotiable.  It kicks off in late-May with graduate coursework in education through Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). The one-year graduate program provides the framework of your residency experience. In August, you will start your “residency” experience co-teaching in an RPS classroom with a highly trained mentor/master teacher known as your Clinical Resident Coach (CRC).  In the spring, you will apply for a teaching position in Richmond Public Schools.  In May, if you are part of the Middle School STEM or Secondary Tracks, you will graduate from VCU with either a Master of Teaching (M.T.) degree or a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree.  In June, you will finish your residency in RPS.  In July, if you are part of the Special/Exceptional Education Track, you will complete your Master of Education (M.Ed) degree. Once hired by a school, you will start your three-year service to RPS in August as a fully licensed RPS teacher. During years two and three, you will continue to receive  mentoring and other professional support through RTR. In your fourth year teaching (one year beyond the Service Agreement), you will receive support to earn your National Board Certification.

There is no two ways around it. This is a rigorous program. That said, urban education is an equally demanding field.  But through RTR, with the VCU graduate education piece and the intensive residency, you will be prepared to lift up a city from inside a classroom.  You will be ready to teach for change.

Do you have the passion and the grit to commit to a rigorous program to prepare you to be the best teacher you can be for the students of RPS?     Yes      No

The Demographics
RPS serves nearly 25,000 students in 27 elementary, 8 middle, and 5 high schools. The ethnic and racial background of district students is 88% African descent, 4% Latina/o, 1% Asian, and 7% White. Three quarters of all students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. Thirty-one percent of the students in RPS live in households that are 100% below the federal poverty level, more than half of parents in Richmond are single parents, and the median incomes of families in RPS is less than 60% of the average in the greater Richmond area.

RTR is a 4-year commitment to teach in Richmond Public Schools, a high-needs school district. Are you capable of making this commitment to the students of RPS?     Yes       No

Qualifying to Teach Through RTR
In order to qualify for the RTR program there are several prerequisites that you must meet.

For the Middle School STEM Track:  As a college student, did you accumulate 21 credit hours in either math or the sciences?    Yes        No

For the Secondary Track:  As an undergraduate, did you major in one of the following: biology, chemistry, environmental science, geology, physics, math, English, international relations, history or political science?     Yes     No

The SE Track does not require a specific major.

For all tracks:  Did you have a 3.0 GPA or higher in your major?      Yes      No

For all tracks:  Did you have a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of your college work?      Yes      No

For the Middle School STEM Track:  Is your goal to teach middle school students?     Yes     No

For the Secondary Track:  Is your goal to teach in either a middle school or a high school?    Yes      No

The SE Track will offer placements at all three levels (elementary, middle and high school).

Please note:  If you feel called to be an urban teacher in the Richmond Public Schools but fall short in one or more of these areas, please contact RTR so we can develop an action plan to position you to meet these requirements. In some cases, that plan might mean simply taking additional coursework.


RTR Testing Policy
Once you submit your RTR application, you are expected to sign-up for the next available testing window for your required tests.  You can find the RTR Testing Policy here on our website.

For the SE Track, you will need to satisfy either the GRE or MAT for admission to VCU Graduate School along with the Praxis Core/Math Only.  You will complete your other teacher licensure exams while in residence.

For the Secondary Track, you will need to satisfy the Praxis Core/Math Only and Praxis II (Content Knowledge) Exams for admission to RTR.  Your Praxis II Content Knowledge Exam will serve as your admission test for VCU Graduate School.

Please note:  ETS offers testing in 2 week windows throughout the year.  However, the Earth and Space Science and Physics Praxis II Content Knowledge Exams are not offered in October, December, February or June.

Are you willing to adhere to the RTR Testing Policy?     Yes      No

Are you willing to invest the time and energy to prepare for your exams?   Yes       No


VCU Graduate School

Electronic Applications are due to VCU Graduate School by March 2, 2016.

For the SE Track, official score reports are required for either the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).

For the Secondary Track, your Praxis II Content Knowledge Exam will serve as your admission test to VCU Graduate School.  A satisfactory score for the Praxis II is determined by the standards set by the Commonwealth of Virginia for each content area.

Are you willing to apply to VCU Grad School by March 2nd?         Yes       No

Are you willing to arrange for your test scores to be provided to VCU and to RTR as required by each Track?       Yes       No


The Stipend and Program Fees
RTR will provide you with a stipend and has negotiated a special program rate for your graduate degree.  Tuition, books, housing, transportation, food or health insurance are not included as part of your stipend. This is for year one only.  Once hired as an employee of RPS, you will be a salaried employee and offered health insurance and other employee benefits.  You can seek additional funding for your residency year through TEACH Grants, VCU School of Education scholarships, and financial aid.  Federal student loans are eligible for loan forgiveness after 5 years of service as a teacher in a high needs /high poverty school.

Is this financial arrangement something you can manage during the residency year?    Yes      No

The Service Agreement
RTR Residents are asked to sign a detailed Service Agreement that spells out the fine print of the program and the stipend.  If you fail to serve out the entire 4 years you must pay back a percentage of the residency year living stipend based on what portion of the 4-year commitment you were not able to complete.

Are you willing to make this commitment?      Yes       No

The Selection Process
The selection process involves several stages – a written application, a phone interview, an on-site visit and satisfaction of the admission and teacher licensure exams.  The on-site visit has four parts:  an individual interview, a group problem-solving activity, a writing sample, and a 5 minute mini-lesson taught to RPS students.

Are you up to the challenge of this multiple step process?      Yes     No

Still Unsure?
Still not sure if this is the right program for you?  Please contact Ann D. Cherry, Director of Recruitment and Student Affairs at, or David T. Marshall, Assistant Director of Recruitment and Student Affairs at and they will be happy to work with you to determine if this program is a good fit for you.