Sarah Lawrence College’s Art of Teaching Graduate program has won a competitive state grant of $103,334 for this year to recruit and train a diverse group of future teachers to work in disadvantaged schools.
This grant supports the importance of diversity when hiring teachers, acknowledging that, “the best way to train teachers to understand the challenges that face inner-city children placed at risk, is to have teachers who come from those communities.”
Fittingly, part of the grant is a collaboration with Yonkers Public Schools, which has a high population of economically-disadvantaged students. The grant will create a teacher mentoring program offering professional development for the teachers at Cedar Place Elementary School, a pre-K through 8th grade magnet school in the city whose student body is 96 percent students of color and 76 percent students with families that have incomes at or near the poverty line.
“This Teacher Opportunity Corps initiative is a natural extension of the relationship Sarah Lawrence College already has with the community of Yonkers,” said Kathleen Ruen, Acting Director of the Art of Teaching program. “The grant offers us vital support and helps us to expand the work we are doing to prepare our students to teach in disadvantaged communities, as well as to recruit students from minority backgrounds and help them become teachers.’’
The Art of Teaching program will receive $103,334 in 2017 and up to $659,000 over five years from this grant, awarded by New York State’s Teacher Opportunity Corps and funded by the state’s Department of Education.
Winning this grant is a notable achievement for Sarah Lawrence and the Art of Teaching program, and recognition of the quality of the school’s program. The size of the award is substantial, especially considering the small size of the graduate program. Sixteen teacher preparation programs statewide received this grant, and the award the Art of Teaching program received is comparable to the other grants, which ranged from under $100,000 to $300,000 a year.
“We are very pleased with this award...It is a recognition of the excellence of our education program, which we have known for years through the feedback of our alumni and through our top re-certification rating in 2011,” said Ruen.
The funds from the grant will support several purposes including: the design and teaching of a 3-credit course that addresses the needs of children placed at risk, tuition relief for full-time New York State residents who qualify for financial aid, reimbursement for test fees and travel, a mentorship program for graduates in their first year of teaching, and a more robust approach to selecting a diverse Fall 2017 class to better represent the children they will teach in the future.
Shane Tan '20