The University at Buffalo Teacher Residency Program, which has been lauded as a nationwide model for addressing the country’s K-12 teacher shortage, has been awarded $3.5 million to expand its reach in Western New York.
The funding, from the U.S. Department of Education’s Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) Program, was announced by Rep. Brian Higgins (NY-26).
Higgins said the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for teachers in Western New York and across the country. With students back in the classroom, teachers “must address the educational gaps that resulted from pandemic-related learning disruptions amid nationwide staffing shortages,” said Higgins.
“Funding from the U.S. Department of Education will not only address current staffing shortages in local schools, but it will also provide long-term investments in the teacher pipeline that ensure opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, it supports a strong education workforce in Western New York that is well prepared for success in the classroom,” he said.
Suzanne Rosenblith is a professor and dean of the Graduate School of Education, which leads the residency program.
“We are deeply appreciative for the continued support the UB Teacher Residency program has received from the U.S. Department of Education,” said Rosenblith, a co-principal investigator of the grant. “With this new grant, the UB Teacher Residency program will continue to increase educational opportunities for all students by recruiting, preparing and supporting racially, ethnically, economically and linguistically diverse professionals to work in Buffalo Public Schools.”
Launched in 2019, the UB Teacher Residency Program enables individuals interested in a career in education to earn New York State initial teacher certification through a paid residency. The one-year program combines coursework with experience educating alongside a mentor teacher for an entire school year in Buffalo Public Schools.
The program works toward building more equity in the quality of school experiences for historically underserved communities in Buffalo by hiring and retaining racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse teachers.
By shifting the balance of teacher education from university classroom-based learning to a community-based residency model grounded in practical experience, the program also bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world experience in K-12 classrooms.
“We are proud that our program has been able to recruit and collaboratively prepare excellent teachers who come from racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse backgrounds,” said the residency program’s director Amanda Winkelsas, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Learning and Instruction. “Research has demonstrated that a diverse, well-prepared, and stable teaching force has a tremendously positive impact on student outcomes such as attendance, achievement, enrollment in advanced-level courses, and matriculation into college.”
She added: “This grant allows us to continue that work and to develop teacher-leadership pathways for more teachers in first-ring suburban districts who work with our residents and teacher candidates.”
The new grant will allow the program to expand program components into Sweet Home Central School District, Amherst Central School District and Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District.
Winkelsas is the grant’s principal investigator. In addition to Rosenblith, additional co-principal investigators in the Department of Learning and Instruction include Elisabeth Etopio, clinical associate professor; Julie Gorlewski, professor; and Erin Kearney, associate professor. Kamontá Heidelburg, assistant professor of school psychology in the Department of Educational Studies at The Ohio State University, is also a co-principal investigator.