Urban Education Fellows on a Mission

Urban Education Fellows on a Mission

The distinctive challenges of teaching and learning in an inner city school are well-documented. Lower test scores. Skimpier budgets. The student body coming from a higher proportion of broken families.

But none of that dissuades a group of Southern students from wanting to teach in that setting. In fact, they see it as an incentive – some would even say a calling.

The Urban Education Fellows – led by co-directors Jessica Powell, assistant professor of elementary education, and Meredith Sinclair, assistant professor of English – are amid an expansion of the organization.

It had been limited to elementary education majors during its first three years, but now is opening its doors to anyone who has or is taking the Education 200 course and has an interest in urban schools.

“Our Fellows want to be leaders and advocates for the urban education community,” Sinclair said. “It is imperative for them to understand the challenges facing those schools so that they can do what is best for children and their families. That’s why many of our activities are geared toward giving them a keen insight into these schools.”

Powell agreed. “Our students want the opportunity to become change agents in urban schools,” she said. “They are starting now to better understand the urban education environment and to build relationships with the schools and communities so that when they become teachers, they will be able to better empower their students.”

Those relationships are being fostered through meetings with urban school educators and student teaching placements in school districts such as New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford. In addition, the Fellows are attending conferences on the subject and will be conducting research that has practical applications.

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In addition to Powell and Sinclair, other faculty members assisting in the program are Helen Marx, associate professor of elementary education; Laura Bower-Phipps, associate professor of elementary education; and Andrew Smyth, professor of English.

Those interested in becoming an Urban Education Fellow may contact Powell at 392-6412 or powellj8@southernct.edu, or Sinclair at 392-7048 or sinclairm4@southernct.edu.