University of Rochester

Warner School Receives NYSED Teacher Opportunity Corps Funding to Support Urban Teaching and Leadership Program

July 23, 2008

A $52,488 grant to the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education will further initiatives to serve the needs of teachers and improve the academic outcomes of students in the Rochester City School District (RCSD). Awarded by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Teacher Opportunity Corps grant program, the funding will support and enhance the Warner School's efforts to recruit, prepare, and provide professional development opportunities to current and future educators committed to teaching in urban settings.

The grant will fund new initiatives that will help to advance the work of the Urban Teaching and Leadership (UTL) program developed by Sonia James-Wilson, UTL director. The UTL program, which is the result of a collaboration between the Warner School and the RCSD, provides a unique opportunity for both pre-service and in-service teachers in urban settings to gain an in-depth understanding of urban schools and specialized research-based knowledge and skills to teach more effectively and equitably in these contexts.

"This grant will have a significant impact on the UTL program because it will allow us to increase our engagement with RCSD teachers and provide new opportunities for the Warner School to encourage undergraduates in the University of Rochester's College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering to consider a career in urban education," said James-Wilson. "Ninety percent of the candidates in the first cohort to complete this rigorous three-year program are now working in schools in Rochester, New York City and Boston, and after two years of successful urban teaching, most have begun to take on teacher leadership roles in service of their colleagues and students. With this award, the NYSED has helped to ensure that the Warner School will continue to develop teachers for city schools who are skilled, committed to equity, and role models for other beginning teachers."

The new funding for the UTL program has the capacity to serve up to 10 pre-service and five in-service teachers each year for a total of up to 45 teachers over a three-year period.

The UTL program provides a concentration in urban education to Warner School teacher candidates in both initial and professional certification programs. Upon graduation, these individuals commit to teach in an urban school for at least two years while they continue to meet for seminars and other program activities as a cohort.

In addition to the completion of requirements for the master's program, UTL students are involved in a variety of professional development opportunities and integrated learning experiences. Over the next three years, this grant will provide support to:

  • Involve experienced teachers in monthly seminars used to address specific topics in urban education and foster reflective practice.
  • Provide additional field experiences that include community service learning and conducting practitioner research.
  • become teachers through mentorship by both the UTL director and an experienced RCSD "teacher mentor."
  • Establish the University of Rochester College Initiatives for Urban Teaching and Youth Engagement (UTL CITY) to help introduce undergraduates to teaching and the field of education and provide opportunities for them to engage with RCSD teachers and students.
  • Provide a series of professional development experiences open to the larger community, including UTL Forums where guest speakers address critical issues in urban education and the Social Activism Through Education Workshop that will bring scholars and practitioners together to share strategies for becoming more effective at addressing issues of inequity and injustice in urban settings.

The UTL program complements other initiatives at the University of Rochester designed to serve the needs of teachers and students from historically underrepresented and underserved populations. Through the Fifth Year in Teaching Scholarship, the Warner School will continue to award up to 10 full tuition scholarships each year to University of Rochester undergraduates to become teachers in urban settings. Students accepted into the UTL program will complete a master's degree and two years of teaching in an urban school.

For more information or to learn more about the Urban Teaching and Leadership program, please visit the Warner School Web site at or contact Danielle Ianni at

About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education offers master's and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, counseling, human development, and educational policy. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its Ed.D. programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform.