Seek and you shall find! Minorities have been underrepresented in many fields but none so glaringly as in the field of Education. Our founder Audrey Cohen recognized this in the 1960's. Cohen launched the Women's Talent Corps (WTC) in 1964, addressing a need for both jobs and training. The program prepared motivated women, with some experience in their low-income neighborhoods, for jobs to assist their communities. The WTC program created a new level of "paraprofessional" positions including: teacher's assistant, guidance counselor assistant and paralegal. People of color gained a stronger voice in the organizations that served their communities. Now, nearly 60 years later, Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) continues the mission of our founder by educating teachers who address the same need in, unfortunately, many of the same communities.
Thomas teaches in the poorest district in the nation - the South Bronx. He says, "As a bi-racial male minority growing up in NYC, I understand the need to have culturally relevant, loving, determined, and passionate educators. Some of these young students are coming from broken homes, shelters, abuse, and what is considered to be a failing demographic. Pouring my life out into these children is a privilege. Coming into the classroom each and every day and letting my students know that I believe in them and that they can accomplish anything they set out to achieve without the fear of failure, is my motivation."
Testimonials like this are not far and few between for MCNY. For the most part, these are the kinds of students that we attract - by design. Our greatest resource for students is our alumni base. Our outreach is organic as our professors and alumni stay in touch. This tightly knit, small community is one that spreads across the New York metro and the country. As a minority serving institution, we put an emphasis on community, both the internal institutional community and the outside community that we serve. We have found that our black and brown students are even more passionate about ensuring that the policies created by federal, state and city governments serve their communities better. The perspective shared by our alumni, a policy that is unspoken, is made very clear that it is important for educators of color to play an active role in shaping school experiences for all students and specifically, students of color.
Students need to know what qualities they already possess and which qualities they need to obtain in order to be effective in the classroom. This is where we start. MCNY's intimate approach provides experience that you cannot gain by a passive, textbook-only approach. We provide an environment for our students to learn content and skills while also learning about themselves.
Carlens completed his Master of Public Administration at MCNY. After learning about the policies that govern our educational system, he decided that he could impact "the system" by teaching kids like himself who are oftentimes, left behind. Now, 10 years later, as a certified teacher, he says, "I am teaching middle school in Atlanta, Georgia in a community where our scholars' safe haven is school. I am face-to-face interacting with our students at an age where they need guidance. They need to see themselves in me. This may be the only positive reflection they see. They have to know that they count. And that they can count on me. #Betheupgrade and make a difference!"
It is the voices of graduates like Thomas and Carlens that help us advertise the MSEd program, organically and via ad campaign. However, these voices are not enough - what the heart wants is not always supported by the wallet. With this in mind, we do everything that we can to provide support for students poised to do this meaningful work.
MCNY's Audrey Cohen School for Human Services and Education was awarded a five-year New York State My Brother's Keeper Teacher Opportunity Corps II (TOC II) grant in 2016. This state funding will have served over 25 new students each year (125 total) in the MSED Dual Childhood/Special Education program through 2021. The purpose of The TOC II is to increase the number of historically underrepresented or economically disadvantaged individuals in teaching careers. It is a step toward resolving the shortage of teachers who are both qualified and prepared to teach students that have been placed at risk in severely underserved areas. At MCNY, TOC II students are eligible to receive up to $3000.00 in tuition assistance, free teacher exam vouchers, textbook reimbursements, and a monthly MTA MetroCard over the course of the degree program.
In 2004, MCNY implemented the Cooperating Teacher Voucher program. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) requires that MSED students be mentored and supervised in school classrooms by qualified, certified teachers for clinical practice. As most non-profits, MCNY doesn't have the budget to pay a stipend to attract certified teachers to mentor our MSEd students. We do, however, have a very supportive community of faculty, alumni and supporters who believe in our students and understand the impact that teachers of color can make on a community. We compensate them with a voucher to take a tuition-free graduate course for their professional development.
We can't place a dollar value on the voices of the people who help promote our program. Their voices are priceless as is the impact that they make everyday in the classroom.
More Programs Leading the Way
We work closely with the members of our Higher Education Opportunity Program office to identify or refer minority students who are considering a career in teaching. Once we have gained diverse candidates to our Educator Preparation Program, we work to provide them the various supports they need to succeed both at Alfred and in the teaching major and profession.
CUNY - Brooklyn College
We believe it is particularly important that the teacher candidates we are preparing mirror the students they will be teaching. Our initiatives focus on the continuum of recruitment, retention, graduation, and certification of a diverse teaching workforce prepared to face the challenges of educating students in the highest needs schools in our Brooklyn community.