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Duquesne Urban Education Initiative Works to Recruit Tomorrow’s Urban Teachers

Currently, few teachers in urban environments receive training that prepares them to effectively reach their students. Duquesne University’s School of Education is working to change that reality, giving students the skills to make a positive difference in urban children's learning.

"Over 1 million students who enter ninth grade in the fall fail to graduate with their peers four years later,” said Dr. Arnetha Ball, Visiting Scholar and inaugural Barbara A. Sizemore Distinguished Professor in Urban Education. "Teachers…primarily come from backgrounds that are different from those of their students, and they feel woefully underprepared to teach students from cultural and linguistic backgrounds that differ from their own.”

In June 2010, the Duquesne School of Education’s Leading Teacher Program strand in Urban Education launched a pipeline program with Langley High School, which offers the Teaching Academy magnet program in Pittsburgh’s Sheraden neighborhood. This program will help prepare high school students to become the next generation of teachers in urban areas.

Named the Sizemore Pipeline–-Tomorrow’s Urban Teachers, this new initiative provides 25 11th-grade students access to School of Education faculty members and speakers who will discuss issues in education with them. The pipeline program’s overarching goal is to help students graduate from high school with a GPA that qualifies them for Pittsburgh Promise scholarship money. At the same time, participants will be considering careers in education.

This past summer, three students participated in the inaugural Sizemore Summer Conference, one component of the Sizemore Urban Education Initiative in the School of Education at Duquesne that focuses on research and practice in urban education. Along with University faculty presenters, three national scholars in Urban Education, the Sizemore Faculty Fellows and School of Education graduate students, the Langley students made presentations on how urban education initiatives could be implemented in classrooms. Even more Langley students will attend the Sizemore Summer Conference in June 2011, benefiting from exposure to the discussion of educational challenges and visits to campus.

"Experience, exposure and education are three words that come to mind as benefits of students participating in the Sizemore Pipeline Program–Tomorrow’s Urban Teachers," said Melissa Price, coordinator of the Sizemore Urban Education Initiative. "The Sizemore Pipeline Program will provide students with the skills, abilities and tools of 21st century teachers. Students will practice what they have learned and apply this learning in their specific teacher field experiences.

"Research has shown that the main components of this initiative–providing students access to 21st century skills, extensive career development opportunities and performance-based financial incentives for students and teachers–drastically increase the number of students, especially minorities, who are prepared for and graduate for college and move on to professional employment opportunities," Price said.

As Dean Olga Welch notes, “The Sizemore Urban Education Initiative seeks to build a model of teacher preparation within the School of Education’s existing Leading Teacher Preparation Program that provides opportunities for School of Education faculty professional development in urban education, a pre-service teacher preparation strand in urban education, research and scholarly collaborative partnerships between School of Education faculty, graduate students and their peers in urban school settings, and a 'pipeline' for high school students to learn about teaching and the potential to prepare to become urban educators at Duquesne University."

The Urban Education strand in the Leading Teacher Program underscores the School of Education’s commitment to prepare teachers for the challenges and opportunities found in the urban classroom, and for the critically important task of helping all children, regardless of socioeconomic background, to achieve ambitious learning goals. This initiative reflects Duquesne University’s Spiritan heritage, which values education as a key factor in overcoming poverty and social injustice, conditions that are especially acute in inner cities.

Other initiatives of interest in the Leading Teacher Program in Urban Education include:

  • Sizemore Scholars Program: The Dr. Barbara A. Sizemore Fellows Program supports Duquesne University faculty research activities on issues of urban education.  Seed grants are given to faculty who do not have access to other funds to cover the costs of their research focusing on issues of urban education.
  • Urban Education Book Club: Faculty members discuss a selected book designed to stimulate ongoing school-wide conversation on urban education issues with links to the Spiritan Tradition.
  • Annual Sizemore Summer Conference: This conference brings together Duquesne University and the Pittsburgh community to discuss issues related to improving education for all students, particularly urban students.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.