AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — The University at Buffalo is trying to better prepare teachers by giving them more hands-on experience during their masters program

Students in UB’s Graduate School of Education are now able to partake in a year-long residency program at a school in Western New York.

The goal is to improve retention and reduce turnover of teachers.

UB has been piloting this program with the Buffalo Public Schools for the past few years with 70 students participating in total by the end of the upcoming school year.

The following year, all students in the program will be able to complete a full year residency.

“The importance of having the entire year for student teachers, or in this case for residents, to learn about the rhythms of the school year to learn about what’s required to establish a classroom, to establish a classroom climate, to engage with students and forge relationships from the very beginning all the way through the end of the school year,” said Julie Gorlewski, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Teacher Education.

She said the 25 students participating this coming year will be placed in the Kenmore-Tonawanda, Amherst, Williamsville, or Sweet Home district for a full year.

“Teacher residents co-teach with the mentor teacher for a full year so the whole relationship between the mentor teacher and the resident is different,” she said.

Michael Cornell is the Superintendent of Schools in Hamburg and the president of the Erie-Niagara Schools Superintendents Association.

He’s no stranger to the residency model.

“We’ve done a residency program with Fredonia for 50 years and they flat-out work. There’s no doubt in my mind that having somebody go through a full year residency better prepares that young teacher to be really effective in the classroom year one, year 15, year 20, and year 25,” Cornell said. “It’s a great idea we’re glad that UB is gonna jump on and start to do theirs.”

The residency approach is modeled after medical residencies and builds on the former 15-week student teaching requirement.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.