A pilot program at St. John Fisher University aimed at diversifying the regional pipeline of teachers will now become a multi-year initiative, thanks to a grant from the William and Sheila Konar Foundation.
The grant will help the Collaborative Education for Equity (CEE) program, which is housed in the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education, expand into a teacher pipeline initiative supporting Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) students from middle school through higher education and into the teaching profession.
By increasing the enrollment and retention of diverse teacher candidates, the program directly responds to the needs of school districts in the community, university officials said.
“Within the context of a national teacher shortage, our innovative teacher pipeline program provides access to education for underrepresented groups interested in the education field,” said Joellen Maples, dean of the School of Education. “Our vision for the program is to create an accessible, supported and sustainable teacher pipeline to prepare, mentor and graduate BIPOC teachers – drawn from urban, suburban and rural school districts – into the regional teaching workforce.”
The CEE program has a three-pronged approach: school-based training to prepare white teachers to work with teacher candidates of color, a one-year field placement for undergraduate School of Education students in partner districts and grow-your-own teaching clubs at each partner school to promote the profession among high school students.
In its pilot phase, which began in 2021, Fisher partnered with Brighton Central School District, placing three teaching candidates of color in the district and creating a grow-your-own teaching club for students.
Fisher also collaborated with the Teaching and Learning Institute at East High School, a state-certified program for students interested in teaching and leadership.
In 2022-2023, Fairport Central School District, Wheatland-Chili School District and East Rochester Union Free School District joined the partnership.
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