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District praises UCO urban teacher program

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An Urban Teacher Preparation Academy will kick off this fall brining 11 student-teachers from the University of Central Oklahoma into three city schools for a full year.

“The potential here is phenomenal,” Oklahoma City Schools Superintendent Karl Springer said Monday night as the plan was presented to the School Board. “We can cause our education program here to take off.”

The program focuses on the challenges of teaching in urban schools and provides college students a full year of student teaching before they graduate and are placed in an Oklahoma City Public School.

Three schools – Linwood Elementary, Taft Middle and Capitol Hill – were selected as the test sites for this new program.

“My biggest apology to you is that we don’t have more than just 11 students,” College of Education associate dean Bill Pink said. “Our plan for cohort two is to have six sites and more students.”

Pink said that they are waiting to hear about a $2.3 million grant application from the U.S. Department of Education, but that even if the grant isn’t received the program will move forward.

Students in their third year in the College of Education applied for the program and after completing a year working in the classroom as paid teacher aids, the students will graduate.

Then students have pledged to remain in the Oklahoma City Public Schools for another two years with support and mentorship from UCO staff.

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