University of Colorado Denver's School of Education and Human Development's home in the heart of Denver uniquely positions undergraduate and graduate students to learn and lead in the dynamic world of urban education. As the largest graduate school of education in the state of Colorado, the School offers 12 programs that prepare educators and mental health professionals to have a profound impact in the lives of youth from diverse communities in the metro area and the state. The launch of a new program, Urban Community Teacher Education, will answer the call from districts across the Denver metro area for new teachers who have the knowledge, skills and experience essential to ensuring K-12 student success in increasingly diverse classrooms.
Initial teacher education at the UC Denver School of Education and Human Developmenttakes place in a citywide learning laboratory in which faculty and teacher candidates partner with professional development schools, community agencies, educational organizations and policymakers to address the challenges and build on the assets of community knowledge in and around urban Denver.
"Teachers need to be prepared for the increasing diversity of our communities and public schools," said Cindy Gutierrez, director of teacher education. "The Urban Community Teacher Education program was established to recruit and develop exceptional educators who have a strong desire to influence educational outcomes among children and adolescents from culturally and economically diverse urban backgrounds. Whether graduate or undergraduate students, we prepare all new teachers to act as passionate agents of productive change in our schools."
UC Denver's School of Education and Human Development's Urban Community Teacher Education program is unique in its strong focus on community. The goal is to produce a new kind of teacher who is a scholar of the urban environment and who understands the importance of engaging with the community. UC Denver teacher candidates look beyond the classroom to understand community resources, needs and assets so that they may better serve schools and communities that educate an increasingly diverse population.
"Research shows that children learn more effectively if their teachers are aware of, respect, and use the community's cultural and intellectual resources," Gutierrez said. "UC Denver's innovative Urban Community Teacher Education views teacher education as inseparable from community engagement."
The Urban Community Teacher Education program partners closely with six Denver Metro Area school districts (Denver Public Schools, Adams District 12, Adams District 14, Aurora Public Schools, Jefferson County Schools and Mapleton Public Schools) to boost urban schools with the greatest needs and collaboratively transform the concept of "effective teachers" in urban schools. Each of the six partner districts supports professional development schools that work closely with the university to prepare teachers; these district partnerships allow aspiring educators to gain deep, real-world experience mentored by practicing teachers while concurrently taking courses. The schools and their districts provide job offers to many UC Denver teacher candidates after successful completion of the licensure program. No matter which district the program graduates choose to teach in, they quickly emerge as leaders for educational equity and opportunity.
"Our work in the schools and the community is a practice-oriented, integrated educational experience," Gutierrez said. "We collaborate with current teachers, learning from them as they engage in their day-to-day experiences. And we become partners in their learning, exposing them to various ways of thinking and reflecting about their work. Together, we make an impact, inspiring positive change in education for urban youth."