Dedria Coleman and Carmen Spencer, two students enrolled in Buffalo State University’s Urban Teacher Pipeline Residency Program, spoke about the power of literacy with Mercedes Wilson on WKBW-TV Channel 7’s AM Buffalo on February 17.
The segment took place during a book fair at Makowski Early Childhood Center (School 99), located on the city’s East Side. It focused on the benefits of offering a variety of books to young children, especially those whose first language is not English. At the end of the book fair, each child got to choose two free books to take home.
Coleman and Spencer (featured in the last video within the segment) are both longtime teaching assistants who are enrolled in the Pipeline Program to become certified classroom teachers. 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.
Launched in 2019 and supported by legislative funds secured by Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, ’74, ’02, the Urban Teacher Pipeline is one of two educator pipeline programs currently sponsored by Buffalo State’s School of Education. The purpose is to diversify the teacher workforce, especially in the city of Buffalo and its first-ring suburbs. So far, 20 students have come through the program and nine are teaching in the Buffalo Public Schools.
During the interview, Coleman said, “I always tell our students, our scholars, literacy is very important. It’s as important as the air we breathe. It helps us to think critically.”
Spencer discussed “Breakfast and a Book,” an initiative she introduced at Makowski to encourage children to read first thing in the morning.
Crystal Elias, Buffalo State lecturer of elementary education, literacy, and educational leadership, who has taught Spencer and Carmen in different courses, praised both students for the experience and excitement they bring to the classroom.