Siovahn Williams is an eighteen-year veteran urban educator who began her career as an outreach specialist for high school students in Chicago Public Schools. Starting at Trinity Higher Education Organization through the Federal TRIO Program, Siovahn managed college preparation programs designed to identify and provide services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. During this time, Siovahn also began teaching for the Chicago Public Schools at Perspectives Academy.
Over 12 years ago, Siovahn moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin. She taught as a reading interventionist for the Kenosha Unified School District. Siovahn is the co-founder of the Culture and Diversity Club.
In her current role at Carthage, Siovahn is the program manager for the Urban Education Preparation Program and is an adjunct faculty member in the Education Department. She also worked at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside as an adjunct faculty member, where she designed a summer course on business entrepreneurship and management for students in 6th through 12th grades.
Siovahn earned her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a reading certification. She finished her dissertation on urban education.
Siovahn is an award-winning instructor who received the Outstanding Teacher Award from Phi Betta Kappa in 2014.
- Education Doctorate, Organizational Leadership — Northcentral University
- Master of Art in Teaching and Learning, Literacy — Concordia University-Wisconsin
- Certification Teacher Certification, Type 777 Reading License, Type 316 — Viterbo University Online Teaching Certification
- B.S., Business and Communications
- EDU 1010: Education and Society
- EDU 5240: Qualitative Research
- EDU 5520: Development and Content Area Reading
- EDU 5140: Development of Curricula
January 14, 2021, Carthage College receives a $150,000 grant for Urban Teacher Preparation Program Kenosha, Wis. The William & Sheila Konar Foundation has awarded Carthage College a grant of $150,000 to continue the growth of the Urban Teacher Preparation Program (UTPP). Building on the College’s existing urban education minor, this program is designed to expand the pool of educators who are equipped and committed to teach in urban elementary schools. The goal of the UTPP is to address the ongoing national crisis of high teacher turnover in schools that serve students in challenging urban communities.
According to Burns, Darling-Hammond, & Scott (2019), teachers indicated their reasons for leaving urban schools included the following: Inadequate pay and benefits; stress, pressure, and burnout; a lack of respect/feeling valued; and student behavior. (Burns, D., Darling-Hammond, L., & Scott, C. 2019).
Carthage’s Urban Teacher Preparation Program sets itself apart from other Education programs by immersing students in the unique and complex work of an experienced urban educator. Teacher candidates work with expert urban teacher-coaches starting their freshman year through the senior year of graduation, providing an opportunity for personal growth and professional development.
The William and Sheila Konar Foundation grant provides funding to support UTPP student recruitment, research data collection, programmatic activities, professional development stipends for expert urban educators, and community engagement.
The UTPP goal aligns with the William and Sheila Konar foundation’s mission to improve lives by promoting educational opportunities, access to health care, and a more tolerant civil society. With large numbers of low-income families, urban districts typically struggle for resources, and students often lag behind their peers. The UTPP prepares students to address these challenges through intense student teaching and courses that specifically address the learning challenges that impact K-12 students.
Faculty experts indicate that, with better preparation, teachers can not only overcome the challenges of urban education but avoid burnout. The key, they say, is learning to view students’ cultural and socioeconomic differences as strengths rather than deficits. That matches the acute external need.
In 2015, when Education Department Chair Jacqueline Easley surveyed area principals about new program options, more than two-thirds identified urban education as the greatest need.
“As an urban educator for my entire career, I have often wondered why colleges weren’t doing a better job of preparing students to teach in urban education,” said Richard Wytonick, principal of Knapp Elementary School of Racine Unified School District located in Wisconsin. “The Carthage Urban Teacher Preparation Program is what I have been waiting for to stop the constant turnover that we deal with in urban education. Students in this program are truly immersed in the experience and I know that when they graduate, they will be ready with the necessary skills to be successful in what can be a very difficult environment. Any graduate of this program who applies for an open job at the school I am leading will automatically be granted an interview. That’s how strongly I believe in this program.”
The Konar gift will further the expansion beyond Southeastern Wisconsin, growing the program nationally, starting with a new partnership with University of Rochester’s East High School Teaching and Learning Institute. With funding from the William and Sheila Konar Foundation, Carthage’s Urban Teacher Preparation Program will continue to expand programming and research over the course of the next three years.
UTPP expansion will include a variety of activities focused on increasing the number of teacher candidates and expert urban educators; expanding and strengthening external partnerships nationally; Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) certification for Teacher Candidates; and launching the Institute of Urban Education-Urban by Choice: Pipeline to College, a summer college preparation program for middle and high school students who want to pursue teaching careers. Education Department Senior Student Teaching Annual Scholarship Fund.
In addition to the expansion grant, Carthage will receive $5,000 from the Konar Foundation at the direction of faculty member Dr. Michele Hancock who serves as a volunteer on the foundation’s education advisory board.
This year, the contribution will fund an emergency aid scholarship for seniors in the education program who experience hardship during their student teaching semester.
Burns, D., Darling-Hammond, L., & Scott, C. (2019). Closing the opportunity gap: How positive outlier districts in California are pursuing equitable access to deeper learning. Report, Learning Policy Institute, Stanford University.