Professor Rochelle Brock
My service activities are not merely a means to an end; they are the outcome of my personal philosophy of making a difference in this world. Throughout my career in education I have worked in service organizations to promote and to gain a better understanding of minority students and to make an impact on the community where I lived. I consider service to be the outcome of the pedagogy of wholeness I have discussed in both the Research and the Teaching narrative. In both documents I have discussed the importance of a commitment to social justice when developing my curriculum and when researching what is necessary for urban and minority students. Service is both my obligation and my responsibility.
As Executive Director of the Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP) my service to the university and to the community has been centered on serving the urban districts of Northwest Indiana. UTEP is an experience-rich, field-based alternative teacher certification program that leads to teacher licensure in selected areas through undergraduate and graduate programs at Indiana University Northwest. In its twenty-year history, UTEP has been developing highly trained and committed urban teachers, as supported by the research on effective teaching in urban schools, with the goal of eliminating the achievement gap among urban students. The program ensures that pre-service teachers are exposed to best practices in urban teaching through the collaborative mentorship of school-based and university-based faculty members. Because of the past success of UTEP graduates, they are given first consideration in interviewing for available openings in the urban districts of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago, Indiana. Since its inception, UTEP has recruited, trained, and certified over 350 teachers for urban districts. Through Service Engagement activities, I connect the UTEP to the needs and wants of community: schools, church, social service agencies, etc. Engagement activities are vital in any school of education but especially in an urban education program.
Impact of my service
My commitment to service began while teaching high school at Hallandale Adult Community Center (1993-1996) and has continued as the Executive Director of the Urban Teacher Education Program. Based on my various positions I have had the opportunity to make a positive impact in the university and in my community. For example, while on leave from Purdue University (2000-01), I worked as a co-principal investigator for the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk (CRESPAR/Howard University) in Washington D.C. where I developed programs for teachers at three inner-city schools in the Washington D.C. area.
During my five years at Purdue University I held Cultural Palooza each semester which was the final project for students in my multicultural class. Expanding the event beyond the classroom, I worked with area elementary and middle school students in the development of art projects that expressed their identity. In addition, my Purdue students participated in service learning projects ranging from working at the Women’s Shelter to volunteering at the Homeless Shelter. The finale of the project was an on-campus event attended by university personal and the community. Importantly, the public school students and their parents were provided with transportation to also attend the Cultural Palooza, which for many was their first time on Purdue’s campus. Recently I held the first Cultural Palooza at Indiana University. Students from Bernard Watson Boys Academy (elementary school) in Gary, IN attended the event and presented artwork representing their perfect world along with a poem they had written. I plan to continue to hold the Cultural Palooza each spring semester ensuring that it grows to include more schools. Cultural Palooza is the manifestation of Sociopolitical transformation of students in that the aim is to both make students aware of who they are and who they want to become.
I work closely with the superintendents of UTEP’s three partner districts. I try to be a resource for each superintendent as they look to improve their districts. For example, the superintendent of the School City of East Chicago invited me to be a member of the Core Planning Team as the district develops a 5-year school strategic plan. My work with Gary Community School Corporation includes: chairing a committee to develop a comprehensive recruitment plan, interviewing candidates for principal of the newly established high school academies and awarded $30,000 from the district to plan professional development of middle school teachers as they work to infuse technology into their curriculum. In April of this year Hammond experienced several teacher related racial incidents I was asked by the superintendent to develop a series of diversity trainings for teachers that will take place in the 2010-2011 academic year.
Impact of my service
Since UTEP began in 1990, new educational challenges have presented themselves in the Northwest Indiana area and UTEP is uniquely positioned to address these challenges. The core cities in the program still see shortages of qualified teachers, especially in math, science and special education. The districts are on the verge of losing large numbers of teachers to retirement. Gary, for one, expects to lose 60% of its teaching staff in the next five years. When teachers with the appropriate subject qualifications can be recruited, they often are not prepared for the challenges of an urban district and are not fully effective and, therefore, have a high rate of turnover. Surrounding districts are seeing growth in the numbers of minority students as well, and access to teachers with urban training would be of great benefit to these districts as they see their demographics change.
When I became director of UTEP in 2007 the program had only 2 students enrolled. After evaluating its causes I put a plan in place to mentor students through their content classes (where we lost many students), I developed a series of seven week PRAXIS I workshops on math and reading comprehension (many students were not able to pass the test) and developed a comprehension recruitment plan. A major part of the plan was to aggressively recruit substitute teachers and emergency permit teachers into the program. Gary, Hammond and East Chicago school districts are consistently in the top ten districts in Indiana in the number of emergency teaching permits issued, according to the Indiana Professional Standards Board. UTEP has been instrumental in increasing the percentage of teachers who are highly qualified and fully licensed for the classes being taught. Based on the plan, UTEP’s student enrollment has increased by 1400% as of May 2010.
Increasing enrollment of students in UTEP is an accomplishment but ensuring they matriculate through the program and teach in urban schools for a significant period of time is an even greater accomplishment and goal. Research shows that urban teachers leave the profession within 3-5 years. According to a report by The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, teacher turnover is significantly higher than that of other occupations. Low-income communities suffer even higher rates of attrition (The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future and NCTAF State Partners). The UTEP Mentoring Program is designed to enhance the retention rate of urban teachers through proactive guidance and support. Although teacher mentoring alone cannot change the effects of long-standing social issues connected with poverty, helplessness, and hopelessness, it will help teachers cope with the daily experiences of extreme social and economic conditions that cause underperformance and high dropout rates of urban children compared with their suburban contemporaries. As such, the mentoring program not only focuses on content, but as importantly the sociological and emotional aspects of urban teaching. A pilot of the program rolled out in 2009 with positive feedback. I am currently seeking funding so that the mentoring of students after they graduate and are in the schools teaching can be
Innovations in Service
Retention of qualified teachers and the impending retirement of a large percentage of the teachers in the target districts are issues of increasing importance. Each of these districts reports a projected shortage of 8-10 math and/or science teachers in the 2010/2011 school year and the districts of Hammond and East Chicago project that 10-11 science and math teachers will retire over the next five years. The critical need for teachers of all content areas is evident. I addressed this problem by holding a Community Round-Table meeting, which was developed as an overt attempt to address the looming teacher shortages in Gary and East Chicago. The meeting was held in 2008 and was attended by over 100 people. Based on the outcomes of the Community Round-table UTEP was able to position itself as one of the lead educational entities in the shaping of urban education in the two districts.
Achievements in Service
My contributions to the field of urban education are recognized at a national and international level. I have been selected for various leadership roles, including the AERA Division B area chair on Curriculum Theorizing AERA in 2002, member of the editorial board of Scholar-Practitioner Quarterly, Associate Editor of Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education, member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, and Editorial Advisory Board Member for the Springer Press Series Explorations of Educational Purpose out of The Netherlands. In addition I am the Co-Editor of the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy (McGill University, Montreal, Canada) and the Co-Executive Editor of the book series Black Studies and Critical Thinking from Peter Lang Publishing in New York.
Also, I have conducted various presentations ranging from lectures presented at the University of Illinois Chicago, the Urban Education program at CUNY Graduate School (2004, 2003), keynote speaker at the Annual Center of Pedagogy Advance, Montclair State University (2003), Simon Frasier University, Vancouver, Canada (2008), University of British Columbia (2007). Because of my work in urban education I was invited to be a founding member of The Paulo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy at McGill University. In September of 2009 I delivered the keynote Radical love and the preparation of urban teachers at the invitation only conference “Initiative for Critical Discussion” in Baeza, Spain.
In November of 2009 I was asked by the president of Peter Lang Publishing in New York to develop a series on Black studies. I worked on the creation of the series from November 2009 till March of 2010 at which time we rolled out Black Studies and Critical Thinking (BSCT). BSCT is poised to be a program within the Peter Lang publishing house. Currently there are 10 disciplines (each with a sub discipline editor) underneath the BSCT umbrella. Our goal is to obtain 4-6 book contracts in each discipline by the end of 2010. As of July 2010 we have 15 books under contract. I am the Co-Executive Editor of the book series with Dr. Richard Greggory Johnson III from the University of Vermont. As co-executive editor I am uniquely poised to shape the direction and vision of this very important series.
Finally I have been invited to speak on urban education at several universities including McGill University, the University of British Columbia, University of Illinois-Chicago and CUNY Graduate School. I was recently invited (August 5th, 2010) to the University of California, Berkeley to give the keynote talk to the McNair Symposium dinner—an event attended by over 300 McNair Scholars and program directors from universities throughout the country.
Efforts to support diversity
Establishing a connection with the minority student community is an important area of my service. While at Purdue University I was the advisor for the Black Student Union as well as advising minority students from inside and outside the School of Education on a formal/informal basis. I served on The Committee on the Recruitment of Underrepresented Students and Faculty and the Minority Advisory Council (both University wide committees).
My efforts to promote diversity have continued since I have been at Indiana University Northwest. I serve on various university committees related to diversity issues and work in the community in various capacities. I recently conducted three workshops on diversity for teachers at Fegley Middle School in Portage, IN. Due to changing demographics Fegley is now diverse as compared to the past and instances of racial division concerned the principal which is why I was called to address the issue.
Integration of Teaching, Research and Service
My teaching, scholarship and service are intrinsically tied together from the standpoint of how each component affects the other for optimal learning. As the director of the UTEP changes are made based on my research on teacher education and in response to the needs of our partner districts—Gary Community School Corporation, School City of Hammond and School City of East Chicago.
I constantly evaluate the effectiveness of the UTEP program in meeting the needs of the target districts and to identify and implement curriculum changes necessary to better meet those needs, as well as to explore current thinking and techniques in urban education. One central problem for the target school districts is attracting and retaining qualified teachers, especially in the areas of special education, secondary mathematics and science. UTEP addresses these shortages by training prospective urban educators with a hands-on approach – using the classroom as a laboratory. The experience-based alternative program allows qualified teachers to enter the classroom with more relevant experience than through a traditional teacher training program, and it better prepares them for the atmosphere and challenges of working in an urban school.
One specific area of service surrounds UTEP’s Professional Development Schools (PDSs). Although Professional Development Schools has been in place since the early 1990s they have never been researched or aligned with NCATE standards. I have begun to align our current PDSs with NCATE standards. In my first year as director of UTEP I brought in Dr. Dee Taylor from Georgia State to evaluate and work to develop a strategic plan in the alignment of our Professional Development Schools to NCATE standards. Prior to her onsite evaluation I worked with Dr. Taylor in the preliminary stages of her evaluation. During the visit and as part of the evaluation I provided a one-day workshop for the teachers and administrators of UTEP’s three professional development schools. In attendance were administrators from the superintendent’s office of Gary Community School Corporation, School City of Hammond and School City of East Chicago. Based on the visit we wrote a comprehensive report which has been used as the basis for the changes to UTEP’s PDSs (See PURPLE Section—Volume II).
Based on the PDS program evaluation I made several changes in UTEP. First, new and detailed contracts were developed for the UTEP partnership. The Memorandum of Understanding now provides more specificity in roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder (See Volume II PURPLE—Section). In addition the M.O.U. delineates the use of the Block Grants provided to each school. Second, it is now the responsibility of each PDS coordinator to provide two professional development workshops for teachers in their districts every year. I instituted strategic professional development in each school.
UTEP has been successful in its mission of professional teacher preparation these past twenty years, and its relevance has only grown as the need for teachers with urban experience is increasing. As evidence of the program’s success, one only need point to the numbers of qualified urban teachers that UTEP has put into classrooms and who continue to teach in the target districts.