Grant to Support Innovative Teacher Pipeline Program at St. John Fisher University
An innovative pilot program at St. John Fisher University aimed at diversifying the regional pipeline of teachers will now become a multi-year initiative, thanks to a grant from the William and Sheila Konar Foundation.
The grant will help the Collaborative Education for Equity (CEE) program, which is housed in the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education, expand into a robust teacher pipeline initiative supporting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students from middle school through higher education and into the teaching profession. By increasing the enrollment and retention of diverse teacher candidates, the program directly responds to the needs of school districts in the community.
“Within the context of a national teacher shortage, our innovative teacher pipeline program provides access to education for underrepresented groups interested in the education field,” said Dr. Joellen Maples, dean of the School of Education. “Our vision for the program is to create an accessible, supported, and sustainable teacher pipeline to prepare, mentor, and graduate BIPOC teachers—drawn from urban, suburban, and rural school districts—into the regional teaching workforce.”
In its pilot phase, which began in 2021, Fisher partnered with Brighton Central School District, placing three teaching candidates of color in the district and creating a grow-your-own teaching club for students. Fisher also collaborated with the Teaching and Learning Institute (TLI) at East High School, a state-certified program for students interested in teaching and leadership. At the end of 2022, one candidate of color was successfully hired at Brighton and 25 students from East TLI and Brighton’s Future Teachers’ Club visited Fisher to meet with current undergraduates, participate in classes, eat in the cafeteria, and tour the campus. In 2022-2023, Fairport Central School District, Wheatland-Chili School District, and East Rochester Union Free School District joined the partnership.
The CEE program has a three-pronged approach: school-based training to prepare white teachers to work with teacher candidates of color; a one-year field placement for undergraduate School of Education students in partner districts; and grow-your-own teaching clubs at each partner school to promote the profession among high school students.
Financial support from the Konar Foundation will enable the School to create a diverse 15-person CEE Advisory Board, foster interest in teaching by developing teaching clubs within partner districts, support licensure and hiring of potential teacher candidates by offering funding for certification exams and tutoring, promote effective mentoring relationships between new and seasoned teachers, and offer school-based training to support teacher candidates of color; among other aspects of the initiative.
“We believe this pipeline can break down structural racism and improve access to education through mentoring students of color and supporting them as they become professional educators,” said Maples. “Working with districts across Monroe County to diversify the workforce will have a positive impact on the education and lives of students across the region.”
Key members of the CEE program include Dr. Kevin Railey, provost; Dr. Joellen Maples, dean of School of Education; Dr. Marlowe Washington, senior diversity officer; Dr. Whitney Rapp, associate dean of the School of Education; Dr. Lucia Guarino, chair of the undergraduate and graduate Inclusive Education program; and Dr. Chinwe Ikpeze, assistant professor of inclusive education.
For more information, visit the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education online.