Monique Maxwell & Jess Freda
(Buffalo, N.Y.) – SUNY Buffalo State will partner with the Buffalo Public Schools and McKinley High School to create a new teacher training program called the Urban Teacher Academy.
The purpose of the program is to help diversify the teacher population in the city of Buffalo.
According to the Buffalo News, 67 percent of students in the Buffalo Public Schools are black or hispanic, while 85 percent of teachers are white.
“It’s helpful for students to have teachers who look like them,” said Dr. Kathy Wood, associate dean of the School of Education at Buffalo State and project coordinator for the Urban Teacher Academy.
“All the research shows that students who are in urban settings, if they have teachers who look like them, are more likely to be successful and graduate from high school.”
Wood appeared on the Buffalo Review April 10 to discuss the program.
Wood said teachers of any race are fully capable of teaching students, however, having a more diverse faculty might be able to create a stronger connection with students and parents.
Buffalo State faculty and Buffalo Public School staff will develop the four college-level courses the high school students will take to introduce them to the teaching profession.
Academy students, who successfully complete the program, will be accepted into Buffalo State’s teacher education program with 12 credits already completed, bringing them nearly a semester closer to graduating.
“We want to make sure those are the students who are interested in teacher education, so we don’t want kids to kind of just fall into the program. We want it to be deliberate for the students who say; ‘you know what, I’m really interested and I think I want to be a teacher’ to participate in this program,” said Wood.
“Encouraging our local high school students to pursue the profession of teaching has the potential to benefit not just the Buffalo Public Schools but any school district with a diverse student body,” said Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner, president of Buffalo State, in a press release.
The Urban Teacher Academy will accept its first cohort of students this fall at McKinley High School.
* Daina Richards and Joseph Kasko contributed to this report.