Teacher Prep program to offer new urban-related certification track
This coming spring, the Program in Teacher Preparation will implement a new certificate track called "Urban Concentration," which focuses on issues in urban education. Students pursuing a certificate in teacher prep will be able to choose this subject for specialized study.
Faculty implemented the urban concentration track as a response to what was seen as an increase in both demand from students and national attention toward schools in urban areas, according to program director Christopher Campisano. “There is a national conversation going on about urban education,” he said.
“There is interest on campus for urban education and we wanted to create a track for the teacher prep program to allow students to focus more on urban teaching,” said associate director Todd Kent, who led the effort to launch the program.
Two teacher prep program faculty members, Kathleen Nolan and Jason Klugman, will serve as advisers for students pursuing the urban concentration certification, according to Kent.
“We believe there is a specific type of preparation that students need to work effectively in urban communities,” Nolan said.
Students for Education Reform president Elizabeth LaMontagne ’14 said this new certification was a positive development, because it will address the challenges of teaching in urban environments. LaMontagne said she expects the teacher prep program to grow in size with the implementation of this new urban concentration program because many students are interested in urban education.
Wilson School professor Stan Katz, a member of the program's faculty advisory committee, has worked with faculty member Klugman in the past and said he was a “young guy with tremendous amount of hands on experience in urban education.”
Klugman, who wrote his dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania on the process of becoming a teacher in an urban environment, taught English as a second language in the Bronx for several years.
“Many of the teaching jobs are in urban environments and the most profound need is in urban environments,” Katz said. “For me, [this program] is a way for me to say we care about the core public education program, which I think is an urban problem.”
Kent said that students pursuing the urban concentration certificate will not be required to take any additional classwork but will have to do fieldwork and independent work on urban education topics.
"Students who go through the full program earn the teacher prep program certificate, but they concentrate on urban education as they go through,” Kent said.
Nolan explained that many of the requirements for the urban concentration are included in the existing coursework, and mentors will help students tailor the assignments toward urban education.
Kent noted that students interested in the urban concentration but who do not plan on obtaining a state teaching license can still complete the program, just without the final licensing. Kent explained that while many students who receive a teacher prep certificate are interested in teaching, others are interested in education policy and other aspects of the field.
Campisano said that field placements for independent work are an essential component of the program. The University’s location provides students with easy access to schools in a wide variety of urban settings where they can participate in various fieldwork opportunities, he said.
“We have a perfect laboratory to do this work,” Campisano said. “We are strategically located to investigate this issue of student learning and the achievement gap ... New Jersey is a fascinating state to investigate these issues.”
The program is not "one size fits all," Kent said, explaining that the track's focus will be tailored to the backgrounds of participating students.
Many of the staff members of the program emphasized that the goal of the urban concentration — and the teacher prep program more generally — is to prepare students to serve as teachers in schools across the nation.
“The University’s motto, 'Princeton in the nation's service and in the service of all nations,' fits this program,” Campisano said.
The University’s Program in Teacher Preparation was established in 1967 to prepare students for a license to teach in schools around the country.
“It’s one of the best kept secrets at Princeton,” Katz said. Katz described the teacher prep program as a “hidden jewel,” which has attracted a small number of highly committed students. Katz said he believes the program is one that offers “a lot more systematic training than Teach for America.”
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