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Even teachers can use help sometimes, and a $25,000 education grant for teaching interns from St. Mary’s College of Maryland will expand their presence in local schools.

The grant from the Maryland State Department of Education is part of the “Race to the Top” Teach for Maryland Network is intended to improve the ability of future teachers to learn from and support local teachers and students, according to a statement from the college.

“We were thrilled to get this grant,” said Jeff Maher, executive director of teaching, learning and professional development for St. Mary’s public schools. “It’s an expansion of the professional development.”

The St. Mary’s College Master of Arts in Teaching program, which placed about 30 students in about 10 St. Mary’s public schools this year, will expand to include Park Hall Elementary next fall.

The grant will allow college students to focus on developing strategies to reach economically disadvantaged students while working at Park Hall and Green Holly elementary schools.

Lois Stover, outgoing director of teacher education at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said the college students will help develop best practices on how to teach these students. She said they will look at the strengths such students have, instead of what they do not have.

Katherine Norton, principal at Park Hall, said she was excited to have the college intern teachers expand their presence at the school.

“Our quality of instruction from our teachers here at Park Hall is amazing,” and the college students will be able to learn from them, she said.

In addition, there could be some fresh ideas coming from the intern teachers that could help improve instruction, she said.

“We’re always looking for new and improved ways to meet the needs of every child,” Norton said. “We have a very diverse population.”

The students and mentor teachers will participate in a professional book club to discuss books related to the topic, and look at ways to best incorporate technology into lessons.

Of the $25,000 grant, $5,000 will be used this spring on supplies, books and strategic planning. The rest of the grant is earmarked for the next academic year and to help pay stipends to mentor teachers, Stover said.

The teaching students from St. Mary’s College’s one-year accelerated master’s program are placed for about 70 days at one school and then spend about 30 days at another school to gain experience. During the longer placement, they often take over teaching responsibilities in their class, with assistance and oversight from the actual classroom teacher, Maher said.

The intern teachers often develop creative lesson plans and can really add an element of excitement to the classrooms, he said.

The local school system often hires the interns as teachers after they complete their master’s degrees. Those college graduates already know the county’s culture, and have been tried and tested in local schools, he said.

“A large number of them accept contracts with us” each year, he said.

jyeatman@somdnews.com