Office of Public Affairs
(315) 312-2265
Oct. 23, 2002
CONTACT: Pat Russo, 312-2632
OSWEGO -- Expanding horizons for future teachers is the goal of SUNY Oswego's emerging Center for Urban Schools.
The program encompasses a combination of urban field placements, in-service mentoring, urban-related partnerships, urban student recruitment and resource location. The college's initiative in urban education dovetails with the school's conceptual framework of teaching for social justice and providing opportunities for authentic learning.
Headed by Dr. Pat Russo and Dr. Barbara Beyerbach of the curriculum and instruction department, the center in Swetman Hall is an outgrowth of the 14-year-old Project SMART (Science and Mathematics Applied Resources for Teaching), which aims to stimulate interest in and practical understanding of science, mathematics and technology among elementary and middle school children.
While the project initially served mainly small-town and rural teachers, Oswego has expanded it into urban areas by building relationships with teachers in city schools from Syracuse to the Bronx. The urban program "came out of connections we made through the Project SMART program," Russo said.
Grant support for the center includes $183,000 from Project SMART, funded by the Teacher/Leadership Quality Partnership of the No Child Left Behind Act. Another $45,000 comes from the New York State Professional Development Consortium.
The aim is for all students in the School of Education to have at least one urban educational experience. "It will expand their view of themselves as teachers," Russo said. "This program is about how to enhance students and enhance the school."
A major part of the program is a range of placement opportunities in urban schools in New York City, Syracuse and Utica. Last fall, 40 Oswego students engaged in seven-week full-time placements under this program. With this semester less than half-finished, 34 had already participated with about double that amount projected to take part, Beyerbach said.
Other New York City opportunities include student-teaching placements, summer teaching assistantships and a "Schools and Urban Society" class that includes a two-week field placement in Manhattan.
Because graduates of education programs are most likely to teach in places similar to where they grew up, "it's going to be important (for the college) to recruit kids from urban settings," Russo explained.
"Even for students who don't take positions in the city after graduation, (urban teaching) greatly enhances their life experience," Beyerbach said. "They generally describe it as life-altering."
For the launch of the Center for Urban Schools, they credit a team from the School of Education that includes Dean Linda Rae Markert, Dr. Dennis Parsons, Dr. Bonita Hampton, Dr. Jean Ann, Dr. Bruce Long Peng, Dr. Eric Olson, Dr. Jacquelyn Kibbey, Anne Keen, Marcia Burrell, Dr. Pam Michel and Jo Farrell.
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