Urban Teaching Fellows Reflect on Experiences Gained through the Program
The GSE’s Urban Teaching Fellowship Program (UFT) is a specialized program that focuses on bringing exceptional teachers into urban schools. Rather than the traditional one semester teaching internship, UFT students have the opportunity to work a three semester teaching residency.
Kellyanne Healey, a fellow currently student teaching at Lord Stirling School in New Brunswick, said that the “UTF program works with fellows to ground their teaching experience in one school, primarily over the course of the first spring semester and the following fall. Having that continuity was key for me – I feel that that continuity has enhanced my internship experience”.
Jamie Gulotta, a fellow currently student teaching at Edward J. Patten School in Perth Amboy, said that “teaching the students, going to back to school night, meeting parents and working in a community of urban teachers is an experience like no other. I'm happy to have the fellows to share this experience with and I am even more excited to reap the benefits of the Youth in Action project.”
The Youth in Action project is the last part of the three-semester residency in which fellows return to their schools and run an after-school enrichment program. Here fellows train youth to create positive social change in their schools and communities.
Both Healey and Gulotta plan to work in an urban district upon graduation.
Learn more about Healey and Gulotta and their experiences in the Urban Teaching Fellows program in the question and answer section below:
Q: How has this experience given you the opportunity to learn information that you may not have learned in a classroom setting?
KH: Working in an urban/at-risk setting on its own can be difficult. There are many added challenges that one won’t find in a suburban classroom.
UTF provides a supportive base in which to put these challenges, questions, and continuing thoughts into discussion through meetings during the semester.
Having the meetings gives Fellows the opportunity to hear others’ perspectives and to look at the internship through a lens he or she may not have thought about before.
Q: What do you enjoy most about the Urban Teaching Fellows program?
KH: The Urban Education class Fellows are required to take opportunities for interaction and work in urban classrooms. I had the chance to complete a Social Studies project in Orange, NJ. It was both an eye-opening and profound experience for me. I also love that the program prepares and offers the fellows firsthand knowledge of what goes on in an urban classroom before the teaching internship. My spring practicum was completed in the school in which I’m now student teaching. Having that focus gave me the opportunity to learn about different goings-on within the school
JG: I like having a group to meet with to support you through your student teaching. I also enjoy that there is a variety of people in different stages of the program so you know what to look forward to as well as being able to give advice to the newer members.
Q: Have you established a mentorship relationship with any of your students?
KH: I’m lucky enough to say that I have. My class is almost entirely comprised of ESL (English as a Second Language) students that are motivated to learn. Several of them come to work with my cooperating teacher and me before and after school and during their recess!
Q: Why did you decide to apply for the Urban Teaching Fellows program?/ What is it about teaching in urban areas that attracted you to this program?
JG: I have been very passionate about teaching since I was in high school, and I knew that I would be applying for the GSE when I decided to attend Rutgers. I found out about the Urban Teaching Fellows at my introduction into the GSE. Throughout my education classes that I had already taken and through my own research, the education gap has always interested me. I am a big advocate of equal schooling and Urban schools at this moment in time are not all provided an equal education when compared to suburban schools. I was excited to learn that this program would support me through teaching in urban schools and provide a community of people to share these experiences with.
Q: What advice would you give to current students applying for the Urban Teaching Fellows program?
JG: I would tell the students to be excited about the program. Many people cringe when I tell them I student teach in an Urban district and it upsets me. Do those students not deserve the same education? Yes, the experience will be different than teaching in a suburban school, but frankly I think the experience is better. You learn more and really improve as a teacher. Stay enthusiastic and excited.