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Clinically Rich Programs in New York: Early Childhood Urban Education Initiative at the Bank Street Graduate School of Education

This article is part of a series on clinically rich teacher preparation in New York State, coordinated by Prepared To Teach at Bank Street College. The text is adapted from their latest report, Making Teacher Preparation Policy Work: Lessons From and For New York, and shared by the featured institution.

Teacher working with young childrenBank Street Graduate School of Education is a small, progressive institution in New York City, founded in 1916. Bank Street has a long history of pioneering innovative, inclusive education programs, dating back to the founding of Head Start.

One of Bank Street’s newest programs—the Early Childhood Urban Education Initiative—helps uncredentialed early childhood educators in under-resourced New York City neighborhoods complete their certification and earn master’s degrees while remaining employed in their existing early childhood classrooms.

The educators who enroll in the program often come from the communities in which they teach and, as they progress through the rigorous program, they are able to bring their knowledge and skills to bear on the students in their classrooms, the organizations in which they are housed, and the community overall.  By completing a master’s degree and obtaining their certification, participants in this initiative gain access to a wider set of professional opportunities.

“This initiative retains Bank Street’s core educational approaches, including providing a full year of supervised field experiences, but we tailored the program requirements to reflect the strengths and needs of the candidates we enroll,” says Dean Cecilia Traugh.

The three-year program was designed specifically for individuals already working in early childhood settings, typically in Assistant Teacher or Head Teacher roles in community-based organizations. To reduce barriers to participation, the program offers a reduced tuition rate and was structured to ensure that educators could remain in their existing positions while completing their programs. It takes into account the common work hours of early childhood educators when creating course schedules and offers many courses on site at partnering community organizations, minimizing the need to travel to campus to attend courses. “Candidates also come to Bank Street’s campus for certain program experiences, which helps them connect and engage with the broader Bank Street community,” says Traugh.

Now in its third cohort, the program has expanded to work with early childhood educators from additional neighborhoods in the city.  The interest from community organizations in partnering on this initiative is a testament to both the need for improved access to quality preparation programs, as well as the quality of this particular initiative. Advisors and supervisors speak to the changes they see in interactions between participating teachers and the young students they serve.  A number of participants have earned promotions from assistant to head teachers even before completing the program, based on the real change in the quality of their work with children in their classrooms.

To learn more about the Early Childhood Urban Education Initiative, visit the Bank Street website.

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Brigid Brennan

Bank Street College of Education