Published April 24, 2018
A collaboration between the Buffalo Public Schools and the Graduate School of Education has led to a solution that hopes to address critical issues of both educational institutions. The issue facing BPS is the need to address early literacy and the concern for GSE is to identify undergraduates interested in becoming teachers in order to develop a pipeline for future teachers.
The solution is an academic course in GSE called Literacy, Access and Equity: Embracing Diversity to Enrich Our Community. UB undergraduates enrolled in the course work with refugee children who have difficulty reading because English is their second language. Buffalo Public School #6, for example, has children from immigrant populations that speak 21 non-English languages.
As literacy trainers and mentors, UB undergraduates read to and engage the children in stories to help them improve their literacy skills. To prepare for working with the children, UB students participate in a cultural awareness component of the course that encourages them to reflect on their own culture. This process gives them a better appreciation of the children they are serving.
BPS and GSE participants feel that this experiential learning collaboration has been a success and there are plans to expand into more schools. By bringing UB undergraduates into the classroom working with refugee children, their interest in teaching grows. And the young international students — from kindergarten through eighth grade — benefit from these new role models.
“Literacy is foundational to academic, social, economic and civic success,” said Suzanne Rosenblith, dean of the Graduate School of Education. “I am so pleased that UB is able to play a part in helping to support these students as they strengthen their literacy skills. This is a great opportunity to expose bright, talented and engaged students to careers in teaching. When universities are able to partner with school districts in ways that are mutually beneficial, everyone stands to gain.”