State grant to help prepare teachers for urban schools

Dr. R. Deborah Davis of SUNY Oswego’s curriculum and instruction faculty has received a grant from the state Education Department’s Teacher Opportunity Corps to help increase the number of teachers from urban backgrounds teaching in urban schools.

The $10,784 grant funds the three-year startup of SUNY Oswego’s Teacher Recruitment for Urban Schools Today (TRUST) Initiative.

In its first semester, the initiative has six TRUST interns—three seniors, two juniors and a sophomore—all majoring in childhood or adolescence education. In selecting interns, the program gives priority to students from urban areas who are African-American or Latino, Davis said.

The interns receive academic, financial and professional support through the initiative.

The program runs on the cohort model, she said, so that students have the social support of one another as they prepare to be urban teachers and to recruit future urban teachers.

“We hope for them to become ambassadors for the School of Education,” Davis said. “They can speak about their own experiences as they do recruitment in urban areas.”

The interns will go into schools in urban areas—both Syracuse and their hometowns—to plant the idea of becoming teachers in the minds of today’s school children.

“We recruit at middle schools and high schools so students will start thinking about teaching as a career and will prepare themselves to meet our criteria,” Davis said. “They will talk to students about education as a career, student to student.”

When a group of 60 sixth- to eighth-graders from Syracuse was on campus recently, the TRUST interns were their afternoon guides, she said, and on Dec. 19 they are scheduled to make a presentation at Fowler High School in Syracuse.

“Syracuse is our primary target,” Davis said. “We’re not getting a lot of students from the Syracuse area in teacher education. We’re trying to build relationships with Syracuse.”

She noted that the initiative is intended to benefit not only the individual students chosen as TRUST interns and, in the big picture, the urban schools getting access to more well-prepared teachers, but also Oswego’s School of Education, as all its students profit from experiencing a socially just approach to teaching that appreciates differences.

Davis said she plans to seek more funding to continue the initiative on a larger scale at the end of this three-year project.

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CONTACT: Dr. R. Deborah Davis, 312-2652

(Posted: Nov 26, 2008)