Program aims to diversify teaching workforce
Leaders from the Schenectady City School District, SUNY Schenectady, Cazenovia College and Clarkson University officially announced, at a press conference on November 23, 2021, a partnership and “Grow Your Own” pathway program for students in Schenectady schools who want to become teachers. The program provides seamless educational access and opportunity for underserved and historically underrepresented students to follow a college path toward three degrees, beginning in high school, teaching certification, and employment as a teacher in Schenectady. It also provides financial assistance, resources, mentoring, support, and more. Students, beginning in the third grade, will have opportunities to learn about the teaching profession, explore their interest, and eventually start the program path.
The goal of the program is to grow our own teachers by generating interest in the teaching profession through clubs and exploration in the early grades and then providing the path, resources, and opportunities that successfully give students a jump-start and guide them through the process and to a career. It serves to remove barriers and provide a clear path of support. Schenectady’s middle schools have Teachers of Tomorrow clubs in place to help ignite and keep students engaged and interested in the profession. The district plans to expand these opportunities.
There are four steps on the pathway. Schenectady High School students begin the path by taking courses at SUNY Schenectady while concurrently completing high school course work, giving them an opportunity to earn credits and an associate degree ahead of schedule. Enrolling in the Smart Transfer Early College High School Program (ST-ECHS) in 9th grade would lead to taking college courses in 11th grade and achieving an associate degree while in high school. An alternative pathway is available for students to enroll in the Teacher Education Transfer program at SUNY Schenectady after graduation.
Once a student completes their associate degree at SUNY Schenectady, they will transition to Cazenovia College to earn a bachelor’s degree and dual initial certification in Childhood Education and Teaching Students with Disabilities.
Qualified students who successfully complete their B.A. at Cazenovia College would be offered automatic admission to the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Teaching Program at Clarkson University where they can earn a master’s degree.
The teacher pathway program takes aim increasing the diversity of the district’s workforce by encouraging Schenectady students to learn about the teaching profession, take a step on the path and be guided through the process. The end goal is that they return to the school district as educators.
“I am honored and grateful to be here today with our college partners to announce this incredible opportunity that is available to our students,” said Anibal Soler, Jr., Superintendent of the Schenectady City School District. “We are excited and can't wait for our students to return to us as educators. We are all in the work together. This is a perfect example of community partners coming together to provide access and opportunity to our students which serves to strengthen our schools and community.”
“It is wonderful to play a role in this new partnership, as SUNY Schenectady joins the Schenectady City School District, Cazenovia College, and Clarkson University to provide avenues for future teachers to earn their degrees right here at home and then stay in the area to educate students in Schenectady," said Dr. Steady Moono, President of SUNY Schenectady. “This is an affordable and accessible way for students to fulfill their dreams of joining the teaching profession that will benefit Schenectady’s schools and students for years to come.”
“We’re excited to be a member of the Grow Your own partnership devoted to the important work of creating educational opportunities for underrepresented populations in the Schenectady City School District to pursue a career in education,” said Ron Chesbrough, Cazenovia College President. “Our undergraduate education programs offered at SUNY Schenectady prepare students to obtain dual initial teacher certification in either early childhood or elementary education plus certification for special education. Combining the dual certification with a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Clarkson University will provide well-prepared teachers for Schenectady City Schools.”
“This program will have a positive impact on the community because it will result in increasing the number of teachers in the school and increasing the number of teachers from historically underrepresented groups,” said Catherine Snyder, Chair, Education Department at Clarkson. “Clarkson is proud to be part of this initiative to provide a Master of Arts in Teaching degree which will complete a Grow your Own student’s pathway to a career in teaching.”
Students enrolled in the pathway will receive mentoring, coaching and financial assistance throughout the process.
The Grow Your Own pathway is immediately underway.