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UCO and OKCPS Partner To Prepare Future Teachers For Urban Classroom Success

April 14, 2010

Media Contacts:
University of Central Oklahoma - Adrienne Nobles, Director of Communications and Marketing, (405) 974-2103,

Oklahoma City Public Schools - Tierney Cook, Media Relations Manager (405) 587-0235,; Judy Alvarez Mosley, Bi-Lingual PR Coordinator (405) 587-0226,


The University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma City Public Schools are partnering to prepare future teachers for success together through the Urban Teacher Preparation Academy (UTPA), a new, innovative program viewed by many as a possible change accelerator.

Considerable evidence suggests the need to strengthen pre-service teacher preparation at universities throughout the nation, specifically preparation to better meet the needs of students in urban and other high-need schools.

With roots as Oklahoma's territorial teaching college, Central's pre-service teacher preparation program is highly regarded throughout the state and region, accredited by both the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation, and is well positioned with its partners at OKCPS to lead the way in this effort.

"Our current pre-service teacher preparation is considered one of the best, if not the best, in the state. But we know we can do much better preparing our students for urban settings," said Dr. Bill Pink, assistant dean of Central's College of Education and Professional Studies. "The UTPA is the most innovative education initiative I've seen here in quite some time. We've found a progressive partner in Oklahoma City Public Schools, and together we can positively impact the entire learning community."

The program places selected upper-level Central education majors in OKCPS elementary, middle and high schools for a yearlong clinical teaching experience, followed by a two-year induction process. The program also includes professional development for the OKCPS teachers and administrators serving as mentors for Central students.

"This pivotal preparation program, focused solely on the unique needs of an urban school district, will be a win-win for everyone involved; but mostly for the students who will gain teachers who are knowledgeable and committed to their success," said Karl Springer, OKCPS superintendent.

The first cohort of nine Central students have been selected and placed in district schools beginning in the fall 2010 semester, including Linwood Elementary, Taft Middle School and Capitol Hill High School. Students plan to document their clinical year online through a weekly blog.

Students in the first cohort are: (name, major, hometown)
* Stephanie Cammack, Special Education/Secondary, Del City
* Brad Cusack, English Education, Oklahoma City
* Sherrie Drwenski, Elementary Education, Dumas, Texas
* Stacey Garcia, Science Education, Winnsboro, La.
* Rebecka Graffigna, Elementary Education, Broken Arrow
* Jessica Martinez, English Education (Spanish minor), Stroud
* Sharyce Pete, Early Childhood Education, Oklahoma City
* JaRod Richardson, Elementary Education, Tulsa
* Natalie Young, Elementary Education, Edmond

UCO and OKCPS hope to expand the program across the district. Central will also look at launching the UTPA in other metro area districts.

Interviews with Central students and faculty are available through Adrienne Nobles, UCO director of Communications and Marketing, at (405) 974-2103.

Interviews with OKCPS teachers participating in the UTPA are available through Tierney Cook at 405.587.0235 office or Judy Alvarez-Mosley at 405.587.0226.


Editor's Note: Art for publication with this release may be downloaded at Includes individual headshots and two group photos.

Cutlines: UTPA Group 1 - (Back L to R) Bradley Cusack, Sherri Drwenski, Jessica Martinez, JaRod Richardson, (front L to R) Natalie Young, Rebecca Graffigna; UTPA Group 2 - (L to R) Natalie Young, Rebecca Graffigna, Sherri Drwenski, JaRod Richardson, Jessica Martinez, Bradley Cusack (not pictured: Stephanie Cammack, Stacey Garcia and Sharyce Pete)