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Guidance key in recruitment of diverse, future teachers

The School of Education is the first SUNY education program to become a part of Today's Students, Tomorrow's Teachers (TSTT), a regional career development program designed to shape economically challenged and culturally diverse students into future teachers and leaders.

Robert Michael, dean of the School of Education, said the program's goals of increasing the number of minorities who become teachers and offering support to national and local efforts that recruit such talented students into the teaching profession fit right in with his school's vision.

"It's important to have a diverse student body and we immediately thought we could, and should, be involved with the program," he said.

As a member, the college will sponsor one TSTT student each of the next two years, beginning with the 2008-2009 academic year. Each student will receive a $6,500 annual tuition scholarship for four years and the college will assign a faculty mentor who will provide guidance to the TSTT student - ensuring that they are prepared for a career in the teaching profession. The students can specialize in any program the School of Education has to offer.

Michael said that in addition to having two students attend New Paltz because of the program, the School of Education will be recognized as a TSTT school and will be promoted to other high-achieving, diverse students. The organization serves 177 high school students and 180 college students, who come from heavily diverse, populated school districts located in Westchester, Rockland and Ulster counties and the Greater Rochester Region in New York, and Fairfield County in Connecticut. Seventy percent of the students are African-Americans and 30 percent are Hispanics and other ethnic groups; and 75 percent of the students are first-generation college students.

The students not only have to meet the admissions standards of New Paltz and the School of Education, but also of the TSTT program.

Students accepted into the program are required to maintain a "B" average and to volunteer as tutors, two hours per week during the school year and 20 hours during the summer. The students receive tutor training, SAT preparation training, teacher mentorship, college visitations, college survival workshops and career counseling.

There are 18 colleges already providing 50 percent tuition scholarships, including the College of New Rochelle, Fordham University, Gordon College, Iona College, Keuka College and Marist College. The college admission rate is 94 percent and the college graduation rate is nearly 75 percent.

Twenty-one TSTT graduates are now teachers, a 100 percent placement rate.

TSTT has received national recognition from the U.S. Department of Education for its successful career partnership model and was cited as "an innovative program that embodies many of the goals and objectives for educational excellence and should serve as a model for other regions in the nation."

Today's Students, Tomorrow's Teachers (TSTT) was founded 10 years ago by Dr. Bettye Perkins, an educator and former IBM Corporation executive, and is chartered by the New York State Board of Regents. Based in Westchester County, it is a partnership of school districts, businesses, foundations, communities and colleges that provide internships and financial support. Major contributors include JPMorganChase, MasterCard International and Verizon.