by Janelle Harb
Canisius College’s School of Education & Human Services has recently partnered with the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education (NUA) to create a new Center for Urban Education in which education majors can partake. The goal of the Center is to enhance the quality of education and learning in urban schools across the Western New York area.
The partnership originated from the National Urban Alliance’s search to connect with a college or university’s school of education in order to yield longer-lasting results within a preschool-12 grade institution. The NUA was founded in 1989 and strives to provide professional educational development and guidance in order to help students and transform schools.
“They’ve found that once they go into these schools for one to four years, and then they have to leave, or a superintendent leaves, [their] practices sometime fall to the wayside,” Dr. Jeffrey R. Lindauer, Dean of the School of Education and Human Services, stated. “By partnering with a college, they have a local connection. We have existing relationships with the schools, and they see it as more of a model that can be sustained over a longer period of time.”
The Center is going to use the NUA’s specific approach to improve teacher education by stressing active and problem-focused learning, focusing on collaborative issues that are concerns to the student and community, mentorship and networking opportunities, and engagement in meaningful dialogue for students.
“We want to provide supports through [student] curriculum,” Lindauer said, “as well as other professional development opportunities for our students to feel better prepared to go into that environment and be successful. If they do that, then that’s just going to help the [pre-school]-12 students [that they teach].”
This fall, Canisius also agreed to be a lead college partner for the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood and hopes to continue to join forces with the NUA to make positive change in schools within that zone.
“I think a lot of people know Canisius as being a school that does good work in the city,” Lindauer said. “This is just another extension of that. I know President Hurley is working with the New Buffalo Institute, where we’re looking at more ways to be involved in the city, and with the refugee population, the medical corridor — all of the things that are now happening in Buffalo.”
One of the biggest issues that Canisius has faced throughout the course of its history, especially in recent months, is diversity. In an effort to solve this issue, another focus of the Center is recruiting and retaining students of color in the education major.
“All the research shows that if students have someone that looks like them, and has grown up like them, then they can make those connections much easier,” Lindauer described.
“Canisius in general has a difficult time recruiting students of color,” Lindauer continued. “We can learn from the NUA as well; we’re not the most diverse faculty [here].”
The Center seems to be gaining momentum quickly, granting urban opportunities for education majors as well as new connections. Looking towards the future, Lindauer is hoping to hold several events hosting NUA speakers in order to educate the Canisius population, as well as the Western New York area, about urban issues and education. “We understand that we are not the solution; [however], we can do our part,” Lindauer concluded. “But it’s going to take a proverbial village.”