GALLOWAY, N.J. – Eight area high school students planning on a career in teaching got a glimpse of what it’s like to teach in the city at the Urban Teacher Academy at Stockton University recently.
The weeklong program, led by Stockton Associate Professor of Education Meg White and assisted by Stockton senior Anthony Kappmeier, serves as a long-term recruitment strategy to increase the pool of candidates interested in becoming teachers, especially in urban schools. The program’s goal, though, according to White, is to “change perceptions of urban schools.”
Each day of the program focused on a different theme. The first day’s theme was about understanding others. The group participated in exercises such as a “Privilege Walk” where students step forward certain statements apply to them such as “Your parents went to college,” or “You have health insurance.” The objective of the exercise is to visually recognize differences among them.
“After, they discussed how these differences made them feel,” White said. “It helped them discover who they are and where they are in relation to others, and how they can bring their discoveries into teaching.”
Other days focused on the qualities of an effective teacher, the importance of taking the time to connect with students personally, what it means to teach in an urban setting, working with disabilities, and how culture can play a large role in connecting with students.
Not all days work, however. Some days were just recreational. One day the students toured Stockton’s Galloway campus and it’s grounds.
“It was so, so beautiful,” Atlantic City High School senior Yousef Afzal said. “Stockton is so beautiful.”
On another day, the students visited the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University, as well as the Absecon Lighthouse and the Atlantic City Aquarium.
The last day of the program, the students visited the Richmond Avenue and Sovereign Avenue Schools in Atlantic City, where they had the opportunity to interact with the students and faculty.
“I used to think that teaching in urban areas was dangerous, but after visiting two, I realized that the schools are actually very well maintained and offer many opportunities to their students,” Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School senior Margot White said.
“[Participating in the academy] has been one of the best experiences of my life,” Atlantic City High School senior Da’Shon Williams said.
High school students who are interested in participating in next year’s academy can register by filling out an application and write two essays: one on why they want to become a teacher and the other about a teacher who has made an impact on their lives. Students must also have a 2.8 or higher GPA, obtain two professor recommendations, and be enrolled in college preparatory classes.
The following students participated in this year’s program: Aamirah Hickman from Rancocas Valley High School, Jesslyn Johnson from Egg Harbor Township High School, Grace Miceli from Howell High School, Yousaf Afzal from Atlantic City High School, Keathrin Biswas from Atlantic City High School, Da’shon Williams from Atlantic City High School, Sampson Feliciano from Pleasantville High School, and Margot White from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.
No tuition is charged for the Urban Teacher Academy. Students do not pay for books, materials, field trips, or other admissions. For more information, contact White at Meg.White@stockton.edu.