Passionate about education: Intensive RUTA program introduces high school students to urban teaching

Passionate about education: Intensive RUTA program introduces high school students to urban teaching


Twenty-one rising high school seniors from five South Jersey counties will get an introduction to the field of teaching, particularly in urban settings, during the annual Rowan Urban Teacher Academy (RUTA), Monday, July 14-Friday, July 25.

Presented by Rowan University’s College of Education in partnership with Rowan’s Camden campus, RUTA is designed to give high school students an intensive, hands-on introduction to teaching. The program’s goal is “to utilize students’ interest in education and broaden it to a greater perspective of urban education through the University’s partnerships with local schools, social service organizations, and healthcare institutions,” according to RUTA Director Lorraine Ricchezza.

Program organizers anticipate that many RUTA students will pursue education degrees with the goal of teaching in high-needs settings, such as urban schools STEM education, ESL education and special education.

“We’re aiming to capture the interests of aspiring teachers who ultimately will work to transform classrooms and schools into learning communities that foster academic achievement, social responsibility, personal responsibility and social justice in the service of teaching,” Ricchezza says.

Side by side Rowan professors

RUTA students will work side by side Rowan professors in the colleges of Education and Humanities & Social Sciences as they examine the historical, social and educational aspects of schools in urban communities. Students also will meet with teachers, community leaders, parents and leaders of social service agencies in the City of Camden.

But, ultimately, the best teachers for RUTA students likely will be children enrolled in the Cooper Learning Center (CLC), a program housed at the Center for Family Services on Camden’s Pine Street. Throughout the two weeks of RUTA, students will spend hours--and days--with the children, observing classes at the CLC and preparing literacy lessons for the children based on the book, “Have You filled a Bucket Today?”

Presenting lessons

On Wednesday, July 23, CLC students will spend the day on Rowan’s campus enjoying lessons and movement activities meticulously prepared by RUTA students.  The children will move from classroom to classroom in James Hall enjoying lessons that promote literacy and themes of diversity, inclusion, acceptance and helpfulness.

RUTA will conclude with a closing ceremony on Friday, July 25, at 10 a.m. in Rowan Hall.

RUTA is funded in part by a $5,000 grant from the New Jersey Education Association through the Center for Future Educators at The College of New Jersey. The grant supported programmatic elements, such as instructional supplies, textbook materials, field experiences, and technology. The program also is funded by the College of Education, the Camden campus and the Garden State Urban Teacher Quality Partnership.

In addition to Ricchezza, Rowan professors and instructors working with students include Chanelle Rose (History), Jane Bean-Foulkes and Diane Doorman (Language, Literacy and Special Education), DeMond Miller (Sociology), Theresa Cone (Health & Exercise Science), Hector Rios (Educational Services and Leadership), and Robin McBee and Laurel Byrne (Teacher Education).

Students from five counties

The following students will attend RUTA this year:

Burlington County

Malik Howard, Palmyra, Palmyra High School; Killian Thomas, Burlington, Burlington City High School; Imani Robinson, Mount Laurel, Lenape High School.

Camden County

Taylor Amato and Lea DeStefanis, Audubon, Audubon High School; Ayanna Curry, Camden, LEAP Academy Charter High School; Sarah Diamond, Sicklerville, Timber Creek High School; Karlyn Harlow, Somerdale, Triton Regional High School; Emily Landrum, Haddonfield, Haddonfield Memorial High School;  Morganne Schafle, Sicklerville, Winslow Township High School.

Cumberland County

Earnest Godbey and Tucker Gatier, Port Norris, Millville Senior High School.

Gloucester County

Julia Barr, Swedesboro, Kingsway High School; Sabrina Boyle, Glassboro, Gloucester County Institute of Technology; Allison Gilbert and Sa’Miyah Wright, Glassboro, Glassboro High School; Jacob Lynch, Woodbury, Woodbury High School; Marissa Mastrando, Westville, Gateway Regional High School; Cassandra Russo, Mantua, Clearview High School.

Salem County

Casey Urion, Pilesgrove, Woodstown High School.