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Urban teacher program impacting inner city students

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma City Public Schools are trying to cut down on how often minority students are suspended.

Part of that effort includes a program to train teachers how to relate to inner-city kids.

Adrian Rosado remembers missing out on a spring break trip to the beach with his friends. But he opted to teach kids basketball at N.W. Baptist Church, which he considers to be far more fulfilling than having his toes in the sand.

Coaching that team was part of his development as an urban teacher.

"It helps build that one-on-one bond," he said, "Something I do with my students in my classroom as well."

Community service is a vital part of the Urban Teacher Preparation Academy (UTPA).

Offered by UCO, OU and OSU, the academy prepares teachers to deal with kids who struggle academically because they're struggling with life.

"Some of them think they have no chance," Rosado said.  "I mean, it plays a big part in why I come to work every day."

One second-grade student, who had assaulted a teacher, ended up in Adrian's Linwood Elementary class.

Using UTPA skills of relating to urban youth, he discovered the child was mad at the world because he couldn't read.

So he spent lunch periods and planning time teaching the boy.

"It's like a flashlight came on," Rosado said, "and he's a whole different student now.  He can read.  His grades are improving.  He's not having any disciplinary problems.  It just took the patience of me to figure out what was going on."

UCO's Director of Educator Preparation, Bryan Duke, says at a time when Oklahoma needs teachers, UTPA has a teacher retention rate of 87 percent.

"You have to really be committed to the challenges that provides," Duke said.  "You can't be a 'presenter' as a teacher.  You truly have to be a teacher, which means you're paying attention to each kid and giving him or her what he or she needs."

Rosado has also had to call DHS to protect students from what's happening at home.

But he calls his job incredibly rewarding.

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