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Model Cities Aides Help Pupils. Themselves

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Now do you créate new jobs for people living .in the Model Cities neigliborhoodj, help them gain college educations, and aim to improve Ihe quUity of the instructional program a t several A n n Arbor Public Schools - all at the same time? You develop the Model Cities Teacher Aide Program. Begun last fall on a pilot basis in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, the program for 1970-71 is being funded almost entirely through Model Cities funds funneled from the federal government, to the tune of about $40,000. (Through January, however, only $8,900 of that amount had been spent.) The Ann Arbor Board of Education i s contributing insurance payments and some fringe benefits for the aides this year. Model Cities people hope that the school board will increase its support of the program in future years if it is considered successful. The Model Cities Teacher Aide program features teacher aides gaining practical classroom experience a t three local elementary schools. It also features teacher aides attempting to take at least six credit hours this semester toward a degree or teaching certificate at Washtenaw Community College or some other accredited college or university. Salary, tuition, books and transportation are supposed to be funded by Model Cities. Currently, there are six Model Cities teacher aides in the Ann Arbor School System - five (including one male) at Mack School and one at Northside. A replacement for an aide at Bach School is presently being sought. In order to be selected for the program, the applicants should be Model Cities residents or former residents (although occasionally they are not). They also must be in a certain income bracket and could not have had the opportunity to get a higher education, probably for financial reasons. "Some middle class teachers don't always know how to relate to inner city kids. That's a big problem in education today," according to Mrs. Mildred Officer, chairman of the Teacher Aide Advisory Committee. "But these aides live in the inner city and they know the problems those kids face," Mrs. Officer added. William H. Stewart, director of the Model Cities Program, put it this way: "The teacher aides understand the life styles of those kids." LeRoy Cappaert, prinripal at Mack School, views the program as a "career ladder program" - helping the aides become professionals in the field of education. And it not only helps the aides earn a little money ($3,534 per year) and get an education, it (OVER PLEASE) MODEL CITIES AIDES HELP PBJPILS, THEMSELVES (cont.)_ helps the children, too. "The aides bring a different perspective to the classroom," Cappaert declared. Stewart said he believes one of the advantages of the program is that it gives the aides "early insights into teaching." In other words, they don't go through four years of college, training to be a teacher, and then decide they don't like it. Mrs. Mary Harrison of 501 Fountain is one of the teacher aides at Mack. Mrs. Harrison, the energetic mother of nine children aged 5 to 15, spends about 20 hours a week in the classroom of Miss Gwendolyn Green. She also is taking nine credit hours at Washtenaw Community College (Western Civilization, English and speech). In her "spare time," she is president of the PTO at Mack School, where seven of her children attend school. Mrs. Harrison also is a member of the Model Cities Policy Board, a post to which she was elected nearly 3 months after joining the Teacher Aide program. Mrs. Harrison, who dropped out of high school at 17 and got married when she was 18, has words of high praise for the Teacher Aide program: "I think it's really great. It opened up doors for people like me who want to continue their educations but don't have thefunds." Mrs. Harrison said she always regretted not finishing high school, and went 2Vz years to night school at Pioneer High before she earned her high school diploma last June. She plans to work toward her elementary teaching certificate, because she thinks the elementary grades are "most important. It's when the kids learn their skills. If they get lost there, they're lost for good." How does this busy mother find time to squeeze in all her activities? Her children help out around the house (the seven-year-old can even bake cakes), but Mrs. Harrison declares: "It's amazing how much time you find when you really want to do something. It's not that I don't enjoy being a mother, but I feit life i had more to offer. And Ibesides, work is the greatest thing to relieve all pain ! " The Model Cities teacher I aide at Northside School is I Mrs. Janice Washington, a I native of Detroit who had I worked as a cashier and as I an aide at a nursing and con-j valescent home. A high school dropout whoj quit school to marry, Mrs.l Washington i s extremelyl enthusiastic about the pro-l gram. "The only problem II have is that I want to do a lot I more with the kids than I'm I now, but I'm not certi-l fied," she commented. Mrs. Washington is firmly I convinced that job I training is great, because I when you finally get your I own classroom, you have a I lot of experience and the 1 ters aren't so bad." She works with four, fifth and sixth graders at Northside, helping children in a variety of ways both individually and in groups. She confided one of her techniques: "Sometimes a child comes to me for help and says he can't do the problem. I teil him 'sure you can. Why don't you show me? I don't really know how tö do it very well.' Then they end up showing me andl it makes them feel so proud." Mrs. Washington says she I hopes to get certified some-l day, and work with slowl kamers. She is convinced I she would never have decidedl to become a teacher without I the program. "The program I really encouraged me." Another former Mack aidel was also encouraged by thel program. After spending last I semester at Mack, she landedl a full-time scholarship tol Eastern Michigan University, and told Mack Principal Cappaert that the program stimulated her to pursue the scholarship. Both Cappaert and Northside Principal Harry Mial seem generally happy with the program, and Model Cities Director Stewart says he is "very pleased with the program and hopes to make it even more effective." Not all the aides are totally enthusiastic about the program, however. A 19-year-old Pioneer High School gradúate who recently left the program said she didn't feel going to college should be a requisitel for keeping the job. "We should have a choice."