WP to Help Early Childhood Teachers Support Preschool English Learners with Grant from Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation

William Paterson University will be helping 20 preschool early childhood teachers at Bergen and Passaic county schools that are part of the University’s Professional Development Schools network to earn an English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement that will help them better serve their students, thanks to a new $300,000 grant from The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation.

The endorsement program for ESL certification is designed for individuals who possess a New Jersey standard P-3 teaching certificate. It requires 21 credits of study in seven courses, and offers the option of continuing in the MEd in Curriculum and Learning Program.

The first cohort of 10 teachers selected for the program will begin the one-year program in May 2021. The second group of 10 teachers will begin in May 2022. The program includes supervised clinical internship and mentoring by a William Paterson professor. Upon the conclusion of the coursework, teachers will obtain their ESL endorsement.

“This is an amazing opportunity for preschool teachers and students in these school districts,” says Cynthia Gennarelli, director of early childhood education innovation and adjunct professor. “There is an ongoing need for certified preschool teachers working in urban districts to have an ESL endorsement in order to meet the language needs of students and families. This will help us improve the quality of education that we’re giving to these children and improve family collaboration and partnerships.”

“The Taub Foundation is pleased to partner again with William Paterson to support high quality early childhood education in our region,” says Melissa Litwin, program director for early childhood at The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation. “The ESL credential will help teachers support multi-lingual preschool aged children and their families more effectively.”

The project is a collaboration between the University’s College of Education and six professional development school districts—Bergenfield, Bogota, Hackensack, Garfield, Clifton and Passaic— and one Head Start Program at The Center for Family Resources in Passaic County. In total, it will impact approximately 35 schools.

By increasing the number of teachers with dual certification in P-3 and ESL endorsement, districts will have the capacity to support preschool children transitioning into a comprehensive preschool classroom, according to the grant proposal. Teachers will be better able help multilingual learners by differentiating curriculum implementation and instruction.

“The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation is very supportive of early childhood programs to build strong literacy skills as fundamental for future learning,” adds Gennarelli. “We really appreciate everything they’re doing to help us help young children.”