Friday, August 26, 2011 6:00 am
Improving our struggling inner-city public schools is a slow process. It starts by placing more effective teachers in the classroom, educators who will inspire their students to dream big and improve their lot in life.
The University of Central Oklahoma's Urban Teacher Preparation Academy is helping to produce such teachers. The program gives college students real-world teaching experience in urban settings for a full academic year.
Seven of the nine students in UCO's first class of urban teachers last school year were hired by the Oklahoma City School District, and one accepted a job in the Midwest City-Del City School District.
The students benefited from working with talented mentors, including Capitol Hill High School's Meredith Wronowski, district teacher of the year, and Taft Middle School's Heather Sparks, 2009 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.
"It's a good investment for our district," Capitol Hill English teacher Jennifer Karber, one of the mentors, told The Oklahoman's Megan Rolland. "It's a program that has been needed for a long time, and it probably should be bigger."
A combination of donations from private foundations, and a partnership between UCO and the Oklahoma City School District funds the program. UCO continues to support academy teachers even after they graduate from the program.The program, coupled with the more than 50 teachers hired through the national Teach for America organization, has helped give the district a talented group of more than 60 first-year teachers. It's a good start on a long road.