TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The University of Toledo has partnered with Toledo Public Schools to help create a more diverse education work-face in Toledo, specifically within the central city schools.
Teach Toledo is a degree initiative that's meant to attract and cultivate Toledoans who want to give back through education and teach in the urban school system.
"Our team sees Toledo as really well-positioned to address a national problem in a really powerful way. That problem is that our teaching staff nationally does not match our students and families," said Lynne Hamer, Professor of Education Foundations and Leadership at UT and the Program Coordinator for Teach Toledo.
Hamer indicates that research has found teachers benefit from urban neighborhood life experience in order to be successful in central city schools.
"What we really need is for people who have grown up and lived in urban areas to come into teacher education programs to become teachers for those urban areas, because they already have the life experience and cultural competence is not an issue," said Hamer.
Teach Toledo intends to do just that: help recruit and prepare citizens ages 18 through grandparent age to become the city's teachers of the future. The program will entail an Associate of Arts degree with a focus on urban education.
"They'll be attending school board meetings, working in TPS buildings, they'll have guest speakers from the administration and teachers and parents to really learn what is education in this setting that I want to teach in," said Hamer.
She also notes that the curriculum will include interacting with students in a meaningful way.
"When we talk about urban education, it's also socioeconomic diversity. It's a whole experience of having lived in a complex urban environment where there's a lot of bureaucracy, there are transportation issues, all sorts of diversity like that," she said.
The program courses will be designed to focus on issues and knowledge tailored to urban teaching.
"The other piece of the coursework that we're really excited about is that as their humanities classes and social science classes, they're going to be getting Latin American history, ancient African history... That's something that tends to be missing from a regular undirected university experience. You might take one of those classes, but it's still very easy to get through with an entirely Eurocentric curriculum and that's one of our problems. So that's one of the things that we're really proud of," said Hamer.
Along with contributing to students' success in the classroom, the initiative's goal is to build diversity in teaching staff in Toledo.
"It really attracts people who are both individually motivated and community-minded, and they're the most fun people to work with!" said Hamer.
The first Teach Toledo class is scheduled to begin in August 2016. The program is currently taking applications, and each month it will hold interviews for those who are interested in the program.
For more information on how to enroll in Teach Toledo, click here.