Davenport University addresses Michigan teacher shortage through unique urban education program

At times, a helping hand can make all the difference. Davenport University’s Urban Education program embodies this philosophy.

Through initiatives like the state of Michigan’s Talent Together program and unique partnership initiatives with Michigan public school districts, Davenport is making a degree in urban education a reality for many throughout the state.

“We’ve seen a significant uptick in enrollment within our College of Urban Education graduate studies program, likely due in part to the influx of funding and scholarship opportunities,” said Rhonda White, associate dean and department chair of the College of Urban Education.

“There’s an increasing need for qualified teachers in Michigan, and Davenport’s program not only offers a formal teaching education, but it is designed to build the skills necessary for success in an urban education setting.”

Davenport’s enrollment increase can be partly attributed to new funding from Michigan’s “Talent Together” initiative, which allocated $66.4 million to a consortium of nine colleges and universities, including Davenport.

The influx of financial support is working. Davenport witnessed a surge in enrollment in the fall semester at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, with more than 120 new graduate program students enrolling. The undergraduate program continues to see a steady increase.

Davenport University launched the College of Urban Education program in 2013 to address the increasing demand for educators, especially in urban school districts.

Davenport’s College of Urban Education program employs a distinctive mentoring model for its undergraduate and graduate students that readies them for the intense work in classrooms, especially ones filled with students who have complex economic and family dynamics.

The College of Urban Education operates online, providing students with flexibility, while in-person resources are available when needed for southeast Michigan students at Davenport’s Warren Campus, 27500 Dequindre. On-campus resources include admissions, academic counselors, financial aid services, and career counseling.

Michigan Public Schools partnerships

Through the Urban Education Partner School Program, Davenport University offers financial support to students, staff and families within select public school districts of up to $12,000 per individual per academic year for a Bachelor of Science in urban STEM or up to $7,000 per academic year for a Master’s in Urban Education or the Urban Education Graduate Certificate. These scholarships are renewable for up to four years and can be applied to cover various expenses, including tuition, fees, books, meal plans, and housing.

Two students from southeast Michigan, Toye Crawford of Pontiac and Tai-Tyana Miller of Detroit have seized this opportunity.

Crawford, currently a Community in the School coordinator at Whitman Middle School in Pontiac, saw the program as a chance to pursue her bachelor’s degree in urban education development. Miller, drawn to Davenport’s unique urban education STEM program, is working toward a secondary education degree with a math concentration, balancing her roles as a full-time mom and paraprofessional at Chandler Park Elementary in Detroit.

“I always wanted to go back to school and complete my degree, but I found a job I love,” Crawford said. “When I learned about this program, I knew it was perfect for the job I have now and the work I want to do in the future.”

And Crawford said the Davenport staff she’s worked with have been great, offering her the opportunity to craft a schedule that fits her needs and the added flexibility necessary to maintain a full-time job. “I feel like I’ve found my place.”

Once Miller found Davenport’s urban education STEM program, she also knew she had found her path.

“Davenport was the only school I could find in Michigan with a program that focuses on urban students and multicultural education,” Miller said. 

Miller began taking classes at Davenport in 2022 as a global student and is working toward a secondary education degree with a math concentration. 

Miller loves her work as a paraprofessional for Chandler Park Elementary, where she is gaining valuable knowledge that she’s eager to pass on to her future students. “I’m co-teaching and creating lesson plans, and I just love it!”

Once Miller earns her degree, she hopes to jump right into leading a classroom of her own. 

For more information about the College of Urban Education, visit https://www.davenport.edu/academics/areas/urban-education


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