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Elms College Launches Center for Equity in Urban Education

CHICOPEE — Elms College is taking a big step forward to improve the number and diversity of qualified teachers in Chicopee, Holyoke, and Springfield.

A new program called the Center for Equity in Urban Education (CEUE) was officially launched on Sept. 24, and supporters, trustees, donors, and members of the community gathered to celebrate the launch.

The program gives paraprofessionals the opportunity to earn their degrees and also provides in-service training to teachers working in schools throughout the area.

Representatives of Chicopee Public Schools, Holyoke Public Schools, Springfield Public Schools, the Catholic Schools Office from the Diocese of Springfield, Libertas Academy Charter School, Phoenix Charter Academy Network, and Veritas Preparatory Charter School signed agreements to participate in the program with Elms.

“We are really overwhelmed by the response we have this afternoon for the launch of the program,” said Elms College President Harry Dumay. “The superintendents of public schools, Catholic schools, and heads of charter schools have all expressed with great eloquence their aspiration for a diverse, well-trained body of educators and leaders who are committed to Western Massachusetts learners.”

The CEUE intends to bridge the 800-teacher annual gap across K-12 schools in the region, especially in the areas of special education, English-language learners, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs.

“I think we will be successful when we can say that the number and quality of educators in our schools matches the demand,” said Anthony Klemmer, acting director for the CEUE. “We’ll be successful when we can say that our educators truly reflect the communities and students that they serve.”

While Dumay said the program has been in the works for almost 18 months, this summer, the CEUE was strengthened and nourished by funders including the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation and Cynthia and William Lyons of Wilbraham.

“We are here first and foremost because we believe. We believe in the power that education had in shaping the stories of our own lives,” Dumay said. “We know this opportunity should not stop with us. We believe that this gift of a great education should also be afforded to all children and young people in Western Massachusetts, regardless of their zip code or the type of schools that they attend.”

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