Nov 30

Welcome to the Bronx! Introducing Bank Street's First Bronx Cohort via The Early Childhood Urban Education Initiative Program

Posted by Carolina Soto in Graduate Admissions on Nov 30, 2016

I’d never heard of Bank Street before one and a half years ago. But it seems a lifetime for all I’ve learned.

It is no secret that Bank Street College of Education is an institution highly regarded in early childhood education. Except —  it had been a secret to me. The ideas of a growth mindset and being a life-long learner were foreign then.

Bank Street’s cornerstones of meaningful culturally and emotionally responsive practice, forged with profound, research-based pedagogical ideologies, form a canon of reference for many educators. The Early Childhood Urban Education Initiative Program made it more accessible for Bronx preschool teachers, like myself at the time, to obtain a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education.

Bank Street is the beating heart, and we students are veins. The program prepares us to better take on the challenges and highlight the successes of preschool classrooms all over our borough. It provides us with resources and a partnership to carry these funds of knowledge throughout the city in a far-reaching capacity.

When the Bronx Cohort program came my way, I had no idea what I was getting myself into —  but hearing all the details about it made it irresistible, and I had to try. Being at Bank Street is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I tell everyone I can about it.
Bronx Cohort #2 around conference table

(Pictured: Bronx Cohort #1)

Bank Street’s first Bronx Cohort is comprised of 14 lovely, strong ladies —  we are a vibrant cacophony of personalities, of rich culture and language, and of life experiences both intense like a storm and subtle like a caress. Our funds of knowledge are deep and the program has made sure we are celebrated.

Being the first Bronx Cohort comes with challenges. This is a competitive program to get through and it becomes seemingly insurmountable with full time jobs, children and families of our own, a hundred problems, bills —  life. There are also expectations — a really big magnifying glass is on all of us. There have been times throughout this learning where we have had to lean on each other heavily for help. There are other times when we have floated like fine-plumed feathers in the wind, delirious with exhaustion and contentment at our learning and successes.

We have also been incredibly supported by so many Bank Street staff, namely our Program Director and advisor, Michele Ryan, who is amazing! It helps that in true Bank Street fashion, our instructors have been essential in encouraging us, and working with us meticulously — meeting us where we were as learners, to get us further. They have effectively modeled what a Bank Street educator is like in action and have nurtured us to be that. We endlessly love and appreciate Mrs. Susie Rolander and Dr. Mollie Welsh-Kruger, who were lanterns in the night for us — they helped us develop from crawling to walking (even on still-shaky legs) through our first two semesters at Bank Street.

Meeting in our classroom at BronxWorks —  who shares a partnership with Bank Street, has facilitated our access to classes while the curriculum has defined and buffed our lenses. We have explored becoming more aware of children’s needs through observation, recording, and ties to theory; this is just a drop in a river of learning. All of the meaningful material has led to developing a current of empowerment. Thus, the well-supported, well-informed impetus to help others flow like ripples of influence to children and families.

Bank Street has allowed us to see the world differently —  even if it’s a world we already lived in. It’s given us the opportunity to become a resource within many of our classrooms and communities. We have reflected and altered much of our thinking about children and pedagogical practices because of the Early Childhood Urban Education Initiative Program. I think it is safe to say, we have personally, internally been changed by it. I am ever grateful to have encountered the program, and hope to practice all that I have learned here through my career and beyond —  I hope to keep the sisters I’ve found, forever.

Are you working in an early childhood setting in the Bronx? Consider applying for our next cohort, slated to start in the summer of 2017.
tagged bronxworks, early childhood education, early childhood urban education initiative program
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