Urban Opportunities
Program to recruit teachers for urban schools receives $43,910 grant

A three-year, $43,910 grant through the state Education Department’s Teacher Opportunity Corps will boost a four-year-old School of Education program to increase the number of students of color who are training for careers in urban schools.

Group discussing urban teaching program.R. Deborah Davis, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, founded the college’s program—dubbed TRUST, or Teacher Recruitment for Urban Schools and Teachers—in 2008 and operated it for three years on annual grants of about $10,000 and for the last year with no grant.

This year, Davis and colleague Nichole Brown, the School of Education’s field placement director, were “overwhelmed” to learn the program had been funded at the requested amount.

“It means responding to the people in Syracuse who have been asking for us to come and to talk with youth there, to plant the seeds in the minds of the youth that teaching is a career ... and a way for them to give back and make a difference in their own communities,” Davis said.

Davis and Brown said the grant enables the Teacher Opportunity Corps program to provide stipends to income-qualifying SUNY Oswego teaching candidates, pay for tests such as teacher certification, defray the cost of transportation to placements in the Syracuse City School District, continue to support graduates of the program, purchase video equipment as a training tool and widen the recruitment net to reach out to undeclared majors and others who might be drawn to the program. The goal is to attract 25 more students of color to TRUST.

“The most important vision for this phase of the grant is to help our students who are here on this rural campus to have more experiences in urban areas while they are in our program,” Davis said.

Sticking with it

A small core of students stayed with the program over the past year, even though there was no funding, Brown said.

“These students still wanted to be a part of it,” Brown said, and “were still very dedicated coming to weekly meetings.” Students also collaborated with organizations such as the National Association of Black Student Educators and the Leadership Mentor program and gave recruitment presentations, “even though they knew they were not going to have tests paid for, were not going to be getting their weekly stipend. We can now support them in the way we want to support them,” Brown noted.

Justine Padilla, a senior who joined TRUST last year and hopes to teach in urban schools, said it was not a hard decision to stay with the program.

“I didn’t become part of the internship solely because of money,” Padilla said. “I understood the cause behind it, so I was willing to be a part of it.”

Davis said she and Brown now need to set up meetings in the Syracuse district to establish or re-establish partnerships that will lead to pre-student-teaching placements for students. Those could range from tutoring on nights or weekends to in-classroom jobs assisting urban teachers. TRUST continues to support them through two seven-week student teaching placements, and after graduation.

The grant application notes that the first grant served 15 students, eight of whom have graduated, with several in urban teaching roles in locations such as New York City, Buffalo and Syracuse.

PHOTO CAPTION: Urban experiences—Nichole Brown, center, School of Education field placement director, and R. Deborah Davis, right, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction and an expert in multicultural education, talk with student members of the college’s Teacher Opportunity Corps program. From left, Brittney Simmons, a TESOL major with a concentration in English; Lola Kelley, an English and adolescence education major; and Justine Padilla, an English and education major and women’s studies minor, met to discuss the possibilities for the urban teacher recruitment program that opened up thanks to a three-year, $43,910 grant from the state Department of Education.

(Posted: Feb 10, 2012)