Buffalo State University’s School of Education made the news twice last week, with a Buffalo News story by Janet Gramza, “Buffalo State Urban Teacher Pipeline Helps Teacher Aides, Assistants Become Teachers,” on February 9; and a full-length feature podcast, On Target with Penny Wolfgang, about Buffalo State’s Global Book Hour on February 10.
The Buffalo News article highlighted Buffalo State’s Urban Teacher Pipeline Residency Program, one of two educator pipeline programs currently sponsored by the School of Education, whose purpose is to diversify the teacher workforce, especially in the city of Buffalo and its first-ring suburbs. The article featured Kathy Wood, the school's associate dean of recruitment and teacher diversity.
The Urban Teacher Pipeline program helps teacher aides and assistants in Buffalo city schools earn teaching certification while continuing to work in their schools. The program offers classes in the evenings, on weekends, and in the summer; provides free tuition for two courses a semester; and covers fees and books to help teacher aides and assistants to move up the ladder to teaching positions.
“Our students are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to become teachers, and our Buffalo public schools principals are happy because they have people who they already know will be great getting the chance to move into teacher leadership,” Wood said. “So it’s wonderful for the teachers, the students, and the schools.”
The program, founded in 2018, is supported by state grants provided through Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes’s office, Wood said. So far, 20 students have come through the program and nine are teaching in the Buffalo Public Schools.
And the School of Education’s Pixita del Prado Hill, professor and department chair, and Patricia George, lecturer, in the Elementary Education, Literacy, and Educational Leadership Department, were interviewed for the podcast On Target with Penny Wolfgang on February 10. The program illuminated Buffalo State’s Global Book Hour, a free five-week community literacy program that teaches children about the world through reading and gives future teachers experience incorporating global literacy.
Created in 2010, Global Book Hour is the brainchild of del Prado Hill and associate professor emerita Kim Truesdell. The program integrates reading, geography, vocabulary, music, visual arts, and healthful eating into a weekly, one-hour session held at local businesses and community centers. Wegmans on Amherst Street is GBH’s biggest partner.
The hour begins with an introduction to the story and to the background, culture, and geography of the chosen county. “Children are handed a passport and they find out right away what country they are visiting that particular day,” George said. “We always put up a map for the children to show them the country we’re traveling to, and we also show them Buffalo, so they have a sense of where this country is in relation to where they live.”
Children learn vocabulary skills, break into small group read-alouds, enjoy a snack, and visit playful learning stations, all related to the book. Departing families are given a literacy “Tip of the Week” to practice at home, and the final session offers free books for children to add to their personal libraries.
A clinically rich field experience, the Global Book Hour allows teacher candidates from a variety of disciplines to help children understand more effectively what it means to be a global citizen.
“The entire session is facilitated by our Buffalo State education majors,” George said.
“Our students see that teaching means more than sitting in a classroom with students,” del Prado Hill added. “It means being part of families’ lives, part of the community. Thinking about who the children are that are in the neighborhood. All of that becomes part of their growth as a new teacher.”
The spring 2023 GBH season starts March 16, featuring books by Dianna Hutts Aston, an American author specializing in children’s books on science and nature. No registration is required.
Photo by Jose Aljovin.