Bill Cosby Greets GSE’s Cosby ScholarsContact: Michael Larkin
Teachers working in under-resourced New York City schools are often the first and best chance their students have for an education, actor and education advocate Bill Cosby, Ph.D., told a room of alumni and current students in the Fordham graduate certificate program named in memory of his son and former teacher, Ennis.
“No one is asking why these children are being left behind,” said Cosby to an audience of more than 100 people in Pope Auditorium on July 18. “You are their life and there are so many ways to bring your spirit into the classroom.”
The Young Teachers at Risk: The Ennis William Cosby Graduate Certificate Program, now beginning its sixth year, is a collaboration between the Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation and Fordham’s Graduate School of Education. The 18-credit full-scholarship program gives K - 2nd grade teachers new strategies to use in teaching reading and writing to students with learning differences.
Cosby’s visit served as a forum for alumni and current students to discuss their experiences in the classroom since completing the program. According to many of the Cosby Scholars, the program gave them the necessary tools to teach reading to students struggling to grasp its most basic concepts.
His visit was also the highlight of a two-week series of lectures and workshops at Fordham to celebrate the beginning of the program’s sixth year and the culmination of last year’s class. It featured presentations by New York City’s Deputy Chancellor for Reading and Learning Carmen Farina; author Bryan Collier; Shelley Shaywitz, M.D., and Bennett Shaywitz, M.D., from Yale School of Medicine; and Lisa Delpit, a leading authority on urban education.
According to Joanna Uhry , Ed.D., professor and chair of the division of curriculum and teaching in the Graduate School of Education , the program is distinctive because it focuses on enhancing a teacher’s abilities rather than creating a “teacher proof” curriculum.
“The difference between curriculum-based programs and the Cosby program is we want to empower teachers to discover the teaching strategies that are most effective,” said Uhry. “We believe that, although curricula is very important, the training of teachers is the most critical piece of the puzzle.”
More than 100 Cosby scholars have completed the certificate program and are using their enhanced expertise to collectively teach more than 11,000 students in New York City schools.
Before leaving, Cosby challenged them to build upon their experiences in the program and share them with others.
“I think all of you have to exchange your ideas, there are problems in our education system that need to be solved,” said Cosby. “Get together and stay together. This is all too new to let it go.”
Founded in 1917, Fordham’s Graduate School of Education prepares teachers, administrators, counselors and psychologists through challenging academic programs that integrate theory with reflective and innovative practice. The school offers graduate programs at the University’s Bronx, Manhattan and Westchester campuses.
Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to approximately 15,800 students in its five undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx, Manhattan and Tarrytown, and the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y.