Published on March 10, 2022 by Leighton Doores  

Orlean Beeson School of Education recently hosted an Urban Education Seminar for teacher candidates serving in urban placements this spring. The purpose was to provide additional support to ensure they understood the unique context and issues that can arise when working in urban settings. 

Faculty in the Department of Teacher Education chose to develop the seminar in response to recommendations received from urban teaching focus groups that were held last fall by the Office of Assessment and Accreditation. One group was comprised of urban practitioners and administrators and the other was comprised of recent graduates who work or have worked in urban schools. The purpose of the focus groups was to determine how effectively teacher candidates were prepared to work in urban settings.

The seminar began with implicit bias training led by Jenée Spencer, director of diversity education and development in Samford’s Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives. A panel discussion followed that was led by administrators and practitioners including Melvin Love, Evelyn Coffey and Evelyn Nettles, all educational leadership alumni serving in Birmingham City Schools. Guest speakers included Sabbath McKiernon-Allen, a teacher at Thomas Gregg Elementary School in Indiana and Rebecca Stivender, an administrator with Cornerstone Schools.

Topics discussed included tips from urban school administrators, reflections from a teacher in an urban school and perspectives from a principal on suburban versus urban schools.

“Seminars such as this are important because the work of an educator is best received when there is genuine connection,” said Spencer. “Understanding urban communities and the challenges therein will help these talented and passionate future educators facilitate genuine and meaningful connections with students, families, and colleagues that celebrate differences and work to address and eliminate some barriers to success many educators face. Community takes community and it is a pleasure to grow alongside the students and faculty in Orlean Beeson School of Education.”

Approximately 35 teacher candidates attended the seminar and faculty plans to host the seminar each year.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.