Since 1997 the Ithaca College Department of Education has maintained partnerships with public schools in New York City through our NYC Field Experience Program (NYCFx). Over the years the partnerships have expanded from one school to four partner schools across Harlem, Washington Heights and Queens.
- To utilize the unique strengths and resources of each institution to enhance the learning experience of all participants;
- To foster a deeper understanding of cultural competence and educational equity by encouraging students and faculty from partnering institutions to cross cultural, social, and economic boundaries to work together;
- To have Ithaca College serve as a consistent college partnership to support students and faculty in their personal, academic, and professional goals; and
- To provide Ithaca College students with experiential learning opportunities in New York City teaching and to encourage teaching in a city environment as a career path.
As a teacher preparation program, we strive to prepare our teacher candidates to teach in a variety of environments and think critically about educational equity in those environments. Our partnerships with NYC schools continue to push our thinking around teacher education and educational equity. While IC and its teacher candidates benefit highly from our NYC partner collaborations, we feel we can do more to enhance what our partners gain from the relationship. During this unprecedented time, when many of the long-existing educational inequities have been further revealed, we are determined to make a greater impact through developing our NYCFx Program.
While our program provides a meaningful experience for our teacher candidates, we have identified limitations and believe, with resources, our program has the potential to be a richer, multifaceted, more purposeful program and one that exemplifies a model of social justice and equity by explicitly promoting the following tenets:
- implementing anti-racist and culturally responsive curricula
- assisting partnering NYC teachers and students to access needed resources
- fostering teacher and student agency, choice, self-care and dignity
- emphasizing bidirectional relationships grounded in collaboration, feedback and evaluation
To uphold our departmental mission of educational equity and social justice, and to model a culture of mutuality with our partners, our goal is to enhance our practice by supporting our partnering schools in new and creative ways; ways in which our partners have expressed interest. Currently there are three foundational components to the NYCFx Program to expand on: 1.) the fall visit to our partnering schools, 2.) IC Summer College, and 3.) year-round correspondence and collaborations.
Every October, Ithaca College faculty, staff and teacher candidates travel to NYC to be in our partner schools for a week of rigorous professional development. Teacher candidates shadow teachers and students, create and facilitate class lessons that align with their content areas of study, and most importantly, build relationships with teachers and students. Every year, our teacher candidates express how impactful their fieldwork in NYC is and how much they learn from our partners and their students.
During the summer, Ithaca College offers a Summer College Program to high school students in which students can enroll in select courses. Each year a group of five to ten students from a NYC partner school have participated in this program, providing college credit to those who may otherwise not have equitable access to advanced placement (AP) courses. While students are at IC taking classes, staff and faculty involved in the NYCFx Program organize events on campus to welcome NYC students and build community. At times, teachers from NYC have joined us in Ithaca to celebrate their students and our partnerships.
Additionally, throughout the year, we continue to collaborate with our NYC partners. IC faculty and staff have travelled to NYC upon request of our partners to offer professional development workshops and opportunities for in-person fall program planning. Regularly, our NYC partners reach out with powerful ideas to enhance our collaborations and we do the same.