A new teacher residency program that aims to boost educational opportunities for all students by preparing and supporting diverse educators officially kicked off this week.
The inaugural cohort of the Teacher Residency Program at the University at Buffalo’s Graduate School of Education is comprised of 13 new teachers headed to five public schools this fall: PS #92 BUILD Community School, PS #6 Buffalo Elementary School of Technology (B.E.S.T.), PS #206 South Park High School, PS #304 Hutchinson Central Technical High School and PS #64 Frederick Law Olmsted.
After completing one year of co-teaching with a mentor colleague and coursework to earn a master’s degree from UB, the residents will then be required to teach for at least three years in Buffalo public schools.
“We’re really preparing them for work in this urban district,” said Suzanne Rosenblith, Ph.D., dean of UB’s Graduate School of Education.
“We have two grants—one from the Cullen Foundation and one from the U.S. Department of Education—to prepare teachers through teacher residency. And I guess the cycle begins with the Institute.”
The weeklong Teacher Residency Summer Institute is primarily intended as an opportunity for the residents, veteran co-teachers and school administrators to work on co-teaching. But a special open session Wednesday convened about 130 community stakeholders, including other area K-12 and higher education instructors, administrators and representatives from the Buffalo Board of Education.
Superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools Dr. Kriner Cash made opening remarks.
“This is the work in America today,” he told attendees. “It’s the greatest civil rights issue in the country and it’s the greatest social justice issue in the country today: Creating an equal and high-quality education [and] ensuring it for every single child under our egis.”
Keynote speaker Etta Hollins, Ph.D., former Kauffman Endowed Chair for Urban Education at the University of Missouri, also spoke about the importance of high-quality education and the specific needs of urban students.
“Teachers are responsible for developing the academic and intellectual resources for the nation,” Hollins said. “So, the nation is only as strong, it’s only as smart, and it’s only as safe as the quality of education that the children receive and the quality of teaching that we provide.”
Hollins spent 20 years of her education career as a public school teacher, and the next 34 training teachers. She said low-performing schools maintain poverty in urban communities, and that it’s critical for teachers in urban school districts to emphasize real-life applications, regardless of subject.
“Urban children want to know what their schooling has to do with anything. ‘Where am I going to use this?’”
The UB Teacher Residency Program aims to recruit and train economically, ethnically, racially and linguistically diverse professionals for high-need positions and hard-to-staff schools. The program is expected to graduate 70 new teachers over the next three years, which will mark the end of its two founding grants.