By Niagara University
Emma Pullano, a Niagara University senior, has been accepted into the Teach For America program.
Teach For America is a national nonprofit working to expand educational opportunities for low-income students. Corps members commit to teach for two years in high-need urban or rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in pursuit of educational equity.
Following graduation in May, Pullano, an early childhood/elementary education (with special education) major from Penfield, will serve as a special education teacher for the Holyoke Public School District in Massachusetts, about 90 miles west of Boston. Pullano will train for five weeks in Lawrence, and then move to Springfield in August. Her two-year teaching commitment begins in September.
"This is truly an incredible opportunity for me to have received, especially so early in my teaching career," Pullano said. "I have always dreamed of teaching in an urban setting and applying to a program like Teach For America, and Niagara only encouraged me to do so because of its values stemming from a mission to help those that are in need of our passions and talents."
Pullano is a member of the women's swimming and diving team at Niagara University. In February, she was named to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference's 2016 All-Academic Team, which requires student-athletes to hold a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale.
Niagara University's College of Education offers numerous undergraduate and graduate programs, all of which are accredited in the U.S. and Canada. In correlation with the university's Catholic and Vincentian mission of assisting the less fortunate, education majors are active in service, applying their talents to teach in urban classroom settings as part of their curriculum. Just last month, the college's longstanding partnership with the Niagara Falls City School District was chosen for a Model of Excellence Award from the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education.
"I have always had a passion for teaching and working in low-income areas of need, and part of what encouraged me to come to Niagara to receive my education was because of the emphasis on helping those who need it the most," Pullano added. "Over the past four years, I have learned how to become the most effective teacher and educator from some amazing experiences teaching in the Niagara Falls City School District, and learned a great deal from my professors who have taught me how to reach out to this population and go where I am needed. I now have the tools and knowledge to teach and develop positive relationships with all of the students in my future classrooms, and Niagara has only helped me continue my dream and passion of making education accessible to all students."
According to National Center for Education statistics, by the time they reach fourth grade, students who are eligible for free and reduced lunch are almost two years behind in reading and a year and a half behind in math, when compared to their higher-income peers. Working in partnership with parents and principals, and alongside educators of all backgrounds, Pullano joins a diverse group of individuals dedicated to addressing these gaps.
"The goals of Teach For America and Niagara University's College of Education are strongly aligned in that we want to help children who are underserved. Now that Teach For America recruits education majors, we are proud that one of our soon-to-be graduates has selected this path," said Dr. Chandra Foote, interim dean of NU's College of Education.
Pullano is the daughter of Tedd and Kathy Pullano.
To learn more about Niagara University's programs in education, visit www.niagara.edu/education. Additional information on the university's swimming and diving team can be found at www.purpleeagles.com.