An education pipeline developed in Windsor will soon expand to other districts.
The partnership between Windsor, SUNY Broome, and Binghamton University is set to add Maine-Endwell and Binghamton City schools in time for the 2021-2022 school year.
“The vision for the Southern Tier Teacher Academy was born out of ongoing discussions with local districts about the need for, and desire for, retaining the very best teachers. District leaders all over have expressed a desire for ‘grow-your-own’ programs,” said Dr. Candace Mulcahy of the Department of Teaching, Learning and Educational Leadership at Binghamton University.
Dr. Mulcahy references a 2019 New York State Union of Teachers (NYSUT) statistic that enrollment in teacher preparation programs in New York has decreased about 50% in the last ten years, and state officials predict a need of about 180,000 teachers in the next decade.
“We need good teachers in our region, and we need them to stay in the area to contribute to the economic development and vibrancy of our community - good teachers help to make our community strong,” said Dr. Mulcahy.
Windsor students can take the SUNY Broome course Foundations of American Education followed by the Binghamton University course So You Want to be an Educator. Students taking these courses get both college credit and credit toward high school graduation.
Students taking these classes will take trips to SUNY Broome, SUNY Cortland, and Binghamton University to meet educators, observe 30 hours of classroom time at Windsor Schools, Johnson City Middle School, and Jennie F Snapp Middle School in Endicott, and gain a mentor in the education field.
“It’s such an amazing opportunity for students to say, ‘Do I want to be an educator?’ It’s such an authentic experience. We’ve had students decide they don’t want to go into education, and that’s just as important,” said Windsor teacher Heather Herringshaw, who has developed the education curriculum for Windsor Central High School.
Windsor students who have taken the classes have returned to the district as college students to substitute teach, and work in the summer Knight Lights program.
“I’ve had kids report back that college professors ask them, ‘How did you know this?’ We’re sending people out with the experience that they otherwise wouldn’t get until deep in their college career,” said Herringshaw.
Soon, students in other districts can have that same experience.
“Windsor has demonstrated success in drawing students into the field of education, with some students choosing an education pathway for their future plans. For most students, they don’t realize the range of roles within education, and think that teaching is the only pathway. This pipeline has exposed them to various roles including, speech pathologists, counselors, interventionist, OT/PT providers, administrators, and more,” said Allison Murphy, Assistant Principal of Maine-Endwell High School.
The wide range of roles in education means people with varying skill sets can find their niche.
“We need really good people to go into education, and we have really good people taking these courses,” said Herringshaw.