The Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education at Boston College is responsible for fostering the values of a Catholic education through the promotion of programs that serve marginalized communities. One such program is the Urban Catholic Teacher Corps (UCTC), a two-year post graduate volunteer teaching program founded in partnership with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.
Guided by its core virtues of spirituality, simple living, community, and teaching as ministry, the Urban Catholic Teacher Corps enables its volunteers to teach for two years in Boston Catholic schools.
UCTC volunteers are expected to serve urban students, live in a community inspired by Catholic social teachings, and complete a master’s degree at the Lynch School of Education over the course of the program.
The organization began operating as a two-year volunteer program in 1997 and is now part of The Roche Center at Boston College. Since its inception in 1995, UCTC has placed and graduated over 100 members.
According to The National Catholic Review, thirty-four graduates completed the program between 2012 and 2016; twenty-three of those graduates continue to teach in Catholic schools today.
The program accepts applications from Archdiocese of Boston PK-12 schools to host UCTC teachers for two consecutive school years (from August to June). Volunteers offer students a formational experience within a uniquely Catholic context and are expected to foster dialogues pertaining to Catholic social teachings and Christian spirituality.
In order to gain admission to the Urban Catholic Teacher Corps program, prospective volunteers must indicate interest in the opportunity on the application to the Lynch School of Education’s Curriculum & Instruction Master of Education Program.
UCTC assigns a supervisor or mentor to each accepted applicant in addition to offering opportunities for weekly faith sharing, faith-based retreats, spiritual direction, pilgrimages, and engagement in community living and simplicity. UCTC also fully covers tuition for the master’s program and community residence fees for individual placements.
Participating schools in the Urban Catholic Teacher Corps program for the 2016-2017 academic year include Cathedral High School, Cristo Rey High School Boston, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Grammar School, Saint John Paul II Catholic Academy, South Boston Catholic Academy, St. Peter’s School, St. Rose School, and Trinity Catholic Academy.
All participating institutions are assigned a UCTC Director who is responsible communicating regularly with the participating school’s principal to define and implement the aspects of program participation.
UCTC teachers frequently collaborate with the school principal and the UCTC Director to attend professional development seminars and get constructive feedback on teaching in light of the program’s Catholic mission.
The UCTC program director, Charles Cownie, views the program as an opportunity to take highly qualified educators and train them to provide quality instruction in a manner that is centered on the core tenets of Christian spirituality. Cownie hopes to utilize UCTC’s resources this year to focus on serving the highest-need schools in the archdiocese.
In a statement describing his goals for the program moving forward, Cownie said, “What we do is take highly qualified educators and form them in Catholic education … We believe that an individual actively engaged in their own faith formation is the ideal individual to be participating with young people in their faith formation.”