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Project 43 allows UNITE members to foster skills in teaching in urban areas

Urban Needs in Teacher Education (UNITE) is a national organization oriented around the preparation of future teachers. UNITE works to equip them with skills, knowledge  and experience to ensure what Annie Bolan, Class of ’14 and co-chair of UNITE, called, “success upon immediate arrival in a K-12 classroom throughout our nation’s most underprivileged and underrepresented schools in an effort to strive towards lowering the national attrition rate.”

Each participant in the UNITE program garners support from family and friends and gather donations from sponsors, with all donations used to promote UNITE programming. UNITE is focused on providing support for “pre-service teachers”— or those that will work in and become effective teachers in urban schooling environments. Not only will they teach in urban schools, but their hope is that with the preparation of UNITE they will stay in the system.

UNITE teachers are taught to hold certain qualities that give them the capability to help students flourish in urban schools: ”A UNITE teacher…

I. Believes that all students regardless of race, ethnicity, or social-economic background, can achieve high academic standards and success upon high school graduation.

II. Empowers students to discover their potential and become leaders in their community by igniting curiosity and independent learning.

III. Sees each student’s family and community as an asset, realizing that a school is only as strong as its parents and community.

IV. Exudes passion and dedication to urban teaching and urban teacher preparation.

V. Believes that a key component to solving the educational inequalities in urban schools and communities is with prepared and dedicated urban teachers who stay in the classroom well beyond the national attrition rate.”

This February, Loyola UNITE took a trip to Chicago (the annual location of the UNITE conference) to participate in Project 43 with five other UNITE chapters from around the nation. Annie Bolan and Gena Stenger, (Class of ’15) current co-chairs of Loyola UNITE, started the first East Coast Chapter of the program at Loyola in 2013. Appropriately named, Project 43 is a 43 hour-long conference—this year themed “Elementary School Check: The Impact of Falling Behind”. The program was initiated because, as Bolan stated, “in 2010 it was originally named for the alarming 43% Five-Year Cohort Dropout Rate in Chicago Public Schools in 2008 and 2009.“ Bolan said that:

“The results were startling; the Chicago schools that lose the most teachers on annual basis are also the schools with the highest dropout rates and some of the lowest performing schools in Chicago (Chicago Consortium on School Research, 2009, 2011). High teacher attrition rates negatively affect the students’ success rates in these urban communities.”

Bolan described topics that the conference covered including answering questions like: “How do we talk about race?  Why is it that teachers tend to leave urban schools? How do we react to having students who are gang-affiliated or involved in drugs? How do we increase student success when parent support is not always present?” Along with spending time in discussion regarding what teachers in urban schools face daily, UNITE members had hands -on opportunities. UNITE members were invited to interact with and visit leading teachers and officials in Chicago schools, as well as members of other community organizations.

Bolan discussed how she and other UNITE members had a strong urge to share their experiences upon return to Loyola. She said that the trip left the group feeling “energized and refreshed. Emily Bruce, first-year, stated that, “Project 43 allowed me to see the similarities and differences between Chicago Public Schools and Baltimore Public Schools.  Although the two cities are completely different, it was interesting to see that students who live in urban communities face a lot of the same obstacles and challenges, no matter where they come from”.

The group also concluded, as Bolan stated, “Our members couldn’t help but see a common thread between Chicago Public Schools and Baltimore City Public Schools, and we want to continue having the discussions about what it truly means to be a teacher in an urban community.”

UNITE originated in Chicago in 2007. The program was put together by a group of pre-service teachers hard at work in Chicago public schools. The continuation of UNITE at Loyola provides an outlet for students like Stenger and Bolan to gain more experience and knowledge regarding their future vocation. UNITE (and UNITE events) is open to all students interested in education. Bolan stated, “Next year, we hope to plan more trips to different cities and get to know Baltimore more and what it means to be an urban educator in Baltimore.” The group meets every Wednesday night at 7:15 p..m and works to spread their knowledge and resources to Loyola’s urban educators.

UNITE, supplemented by Program 43 has the potential to help education majors truly understand what it means to be an educator in an urban setting.


More information about UNITE can be found at



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Project 43 allows UNITE members to foster skills in teaching in urban areas