Education, Jobs, Syracuse

Local Program Works to Diversify Syracuse City School Classrooms

Urban Fellowship Program works to combat the lack of diversity among teachers in Syracuse City Schools (c) 2017 Alana Seldon

By Alana Seldon Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) – New studies have found that teachers in the Syracuse City School District do not reflect the racial or ethnic diversity of their students in the classrooms.

While research shows that students of color perform better, are encouraged to attend college more and discouraged to dropout when they have a teacher of color, the chances of these students having a teacher of color in Syracuse schools is slim. In fact, according to a new study by The Education Trust–New York , nearly half of the students in Syracuse schools are black, while only 5 percent of the teachers in those same schools are black, as well.

However, the Syracuse City School District launched a program in September of 2016 in an effort to fill this diversity gap between students and teachers.

The SCSD’s Urban Fellowship Program works to ensure that faculty better represent the diversity of the student body. Scott Persampieri, Director of Recruitment and Selection for the district says his office travels to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and sends program pamphlets to other organizations to “attract high-quality, teaching candidates who would come to us with a passion for urban teaching.”

Accepted Urban Fellows agree to teach for five years in the SCSD. In exchange for the commitment, fellows receive the following:

  • full tuition toward a Master’s in Education at Syracuse University
  • a guaranteed starting salary of $47,500 and additional pay for prior experience and an opportunity to earn additional $5,000 – $8,900 by working in an extended learning time school
  • assistance with New York State teaching certification, if from out of state

Persampieri says being able to promise a free education from SU is one of his favorite parts about the program and its partnership with the University. Among other incentives, he believes that’s what really encourages educators to apply.