The Buffalo Public School District and SUNY Buffalo State launched the city’s very first Urban Teacher Academy for high school students. WBFO senior reporter Eileen Buckley said about 20 ninth grade students joined the program this fall at McKinley High School.
The freshmen participating in this brand new Urban Teacher Academy are already behaving like future teachers. Some have approached to introduce themselves to welcome you to their class.
The City District and State of Buffalo established the Urban Academy to address the issue of racial disparities among teachers and the teacher shortage.
“So we have to raise the frame – the number of people who come into the teaching profession,” said Katherine Conway-Turner, President of the State of Buffalo.
Conway-Turner tells us that the college is committed to developing the teaching profession in urban settings.
“Teaching has always been one of the noble professions,” said Kriner Cash, superintendent of Buffalo schools.
It’s called a “grow our own” initiative to cultivate a diverse pool of future teachers who would remain committed to teaching in Buffalo schools. Cash encouraged the students to stick with the curriculum and commit to becoming a future Buffalo teacher.
“Because the Urban Teacher Academy promises to make an agreement that through your commitment and hard work you will have a path to success and long-term gainful employment in our growing economy,” Cash said. .
Students will take four college-level courses. If successful, the 12 credit hours that would then be accepted into Buff State education programs.
Buffalo State Dean of the School of Education, Dr. Wendy Paterson, told McKinley students that they are now “pioneers.”
“There will never be another of you – never another first Urban Teacher Academy – you are and what it means to us is that we will support you where this pioneering dream takes you”, Paterson said.
Buffalo State Associate Dean Kathy Wood was thrilled to see the city’s students learning about the teaching profession.
“I said I wanted to cry there. I love how engaged and excited you are and I am so proud of you. Thirteen and fourteen year olds, to be able to do that, come in – commit to teaching – love it, ”Wood said.
These students will also participate in activities at Buff State to prepare for college.
Felice Brandy is the Urban Academy teacher.
“I let them decide the different ways they would like to see themselves in education, so we don’t always talk about them as a teacher, just the education field itself,” Brandy explained.
Brandy us, the real job will be to make sure they stay interested.
“That’s the key – because they’re so young, they’re very, very interested in having fun. I have to make teaching fun. It’s not primary education here at McKinley – they’re in high school so I have to do the content they get to make sure I’m delivering it in a very engaging way and one of the ways that I do it is to make sure that the learning is student-centered – that the learning is project-based – that the learning is hands-on, ”said Brandy.
Freshman Gabrielle Baldwin wants to be a future kindergarten teacher and was inspired by a four-year-old sister.
“Seeing the expressions on her face when she learns new things turns me on,” Baldwin said.
“How important is it to you to have a color teacher in the classroom?” Buckley asked.
“This is where the race comes in. I think the students can better identify with the teacher since they come from the same place. Students can feel more comfortable with the teacher, ”Baldwin replied.
“When I’m in class with my classmates, I can learn more about their culture as they learn more about mine,” said freshman Rakim Scales.
Sales wants to be a future art teacher.
“I want to be able to make an impact on kids by showing them they’re not alone,” Scales said.
The first cohort represents not only Buffalo, but several countries around the world including Nepal, Kenya, Jordan, Uganda, Bangladesh and Burma.
Teacher Brandy said the program will develop “culturally sensitive students” to become “culturally sensitive educators”.