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Dr. Shirley Sommers
Director, Center for Urban Education
4245 East Avenue
Rochester NY, 14618
Mission Statement: The Frontier Center for Urban Education supports and initiates promising practices and collaborative efforts in urban education. It serves to foster partnerships between Nazareth College educators and students, urban schools, and community-based organizations. The Frontier Center for Urban Education recognizes excellence and challenges within urban schools and is cognizant that innovative and effective pedagogical practices alone cannot address the impact of social forces. Therefore, the Center promotes teacher and student understanding of the social forces and seeks to address them by building on the strengths and potential of the Rochester community.
Rochester City School District Student Services
School #19 and 46 partnerships
The Center has a strong partnership with the Rochester City School District. Students from Nazareth College are engaged in projects and activities in many schools within the district. Projects and activities which include provision of literacy support and development, STEM focused initiatives, and mentoring. In addition, the Center has deep relationships with Charter schools in Rochester.
Professional Development for Teachers
The School of Education provides professional development opportunities for the RCSD teachers, some of these include the Inquiry Project, Professional Learning Community, Bilingual Education Certificate, and the Professional Development Grant.
Practicum Placements of Naz Students
The office of Field Placement in the School of Education places Nazareth College students in many RCSD schools. Such placements provide an opportunity for students to learn about effective teaching methods in urban environments.
Teacher Preparation for Urban Schools
In collaboration with the Rochester City School District and its community partners, the TOC program helps prepare teachers of color to address the learning needs of students in high-need schools. Beyond meeting requirements for teaching certification, TOC participants are mentored by effective teachers and are involved in extensive professional development and community based learning experiences. Students from high-need schools who are tutored for 40 hours by TOC pre-services teachers consistently meet academic goals. TOC fosters continued growth in TOC graduates by mentoring them beyond their first year of teaching and providing them with professional development opportunities through their teaching careers. Since 1989, more than 120 TOC graduates have taught in RCSD schools, and most importantly, TOC graduates have more than a 98 percent retention rate in the first five years of teaching.
Site Based Courses
"The question my students ask is 'Why does it have to be specific to children of color when application can be made to all children?'. I agree with them and say because all the other books are not called 'Teaching the White Kids' and yet that is what they are about. Our society in its political correctness tries to minimize difference and therefore in education we perpetuate the practice of teaching the way we were taught, using expectations, assumptions, and analogies that were perhaps valid and applicable to our lives. Doing this we lose students whose lives and experiences are different than the growing up lives of many of today's pre-service teachers. We need to make the differences in culture/communities real and overt if teachers are going to employ methods and approaches that are responsive to the culture they teach in, applicable to the lives of their students, and effective in equipping students with skills of learning and perspective taking. Teaching in an urban school makes the difference of children real and the inequity in education blatant. Trying to teach this, communicate this, in the safety of a college classroom, at best, leaves these concepts in an abstract vacuum. The opportunity to teach in an urban setting communications volumes much more effectively than I ever could." - Dr. Ellen Contopidis, Assistant Professor of Inclusive Childhood Education on the importance of site based courses.