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Buffalo State, The Peoples’ “College”

How many times have I gone past Buffalo State and heard the bells at Rockwell ring? Often enough to take it for granted.

Recently, I was reintroduced to Buffalo State and was pleasantly surprised by what I learned. The first thing I noticed when I walked into Dr. Paterson’s office, was a poster advertising the “Harry Potter” course (officially EDU 612 “Developing Literacy with Literature”). Paterson, dean of the Education department, teaches this course to keep it current in the realm of literacy. Reading the books allows her teacher candidates to remember being in fourth grade and to explore the Harry Potter phenomenon that got so many young people excited about reading.

Paterson’s enthusiasm for the course, for the programs, for her alma mater is evident. It’s not just about books and classes on the urban campus, the emphasis is on volunteer service, including the Global Book tour at Wegmans on Saturday mornings where children are introduced to culturally diverse books by teachers in training.

President Katherine Conway-Turner describes it as “an urban engaged campus”. There are Buff State students participating all over town, particularly in the local public school systems. The institution began in 1871 as a teacher’s college and although there are more and bigger programs now at Buffalo State College, a comprehensive college in the SUNY system, they have never forgotten their core mission. Buffalo Public School system is a major employer of graduates and BSC does their best to prepare them through both local service work, course work, as well as international exploration.

Many of the Buffalo State students are from Western NY and although they do not change their general locale in order to study at BSC’s comprehensive city campus, the area itself is changing. More of the world is coming to Buffalo, a port city and arrival center for immigrants. In keeping with Buffalo’s resurgence, the college is dedicated to bringing the world to the students one way or another. Future teachers will meet many cultures in the local schools they participate in and benefit from first-hand learning about educational models and cultures before they are certified teachers.

That’s where the International Professional Development School program comes in. The School of Education brings students from all programs on three week trips to explore schools and life in other cultures. In the Dominican Republic, students observe in a Montessori School and in Germany, they observe a Waldorf school. There are also trips to countries in Africa, Europe, and South America. Observing different educational models and engaging in comparative studies, peaks students’ interest in further study of education around the globe. Buffalo State’s School of Education recently developed a new course to acquaint teachers of young children with the Waldorf education model. The objective there is to offer many philosophical and practical bases for understanding child development and incorporating that into curriculum delivery and assessment.

Enrichment at Buffalo State goes both ways; it extends into the curriculum and back out into the community. A recent community discussion on safe schools on campus was well attended by the community. You can find out more about events at Buffalo State College by checking their website. Notice the storefront on Grant and Lafayette streets that houses a Learning Center to provide education and health support for the West Side community. Visit the Burchfield Penney Art gallery, productions in Rockwell hall, or the Spring Open House for perspective students on Friday, April 14th from 9:15 am to 1:00 pm (see program). It’s worth noting and supporting the positive things that are happening right in our own back yard.

Written by Judith Frizlen

Judith Frizlen

Judith Frizlen is the founder of the Rose Garden Early Childhood Center and author of Words for Parents, Words for Teachers and Caregivers and Unpacking Guilt, a Mother's Journey to Freedom. Books and blogposts are on her website at She is a fan of early childhood, urban architecture and the revitalization of Buffalo.

View All Articles by Judith Frizlen
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