Public School Teachers Complete Program at Yale

Yale National Fellows Lead Teachers Institutes for Their Communities

National Fellows at the Intensive Session, July 2011. (Left to right: Amanda K. Reasoner, Charlotte; Mika M. Cade, Emery Unified; Mary M. Whalen, San Mateo County; Valerie J. Schwarz, Richmond; Torrieann M. Dooley, Charlotte; Molly Myers, Chicago; and Intisar K. Hamidullah, Charlotte.)

Public school teachers from twenty-one school districts in ten states have completed national seminars and an Intensive Session as participants in the Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools®.

Thirty-four of the teachers, named Yale National Fellows, are from school districts that are exploring the establishment of a new Teachers Institute for Chicago, IL; DeKalb County, GA; Emeryville, CA; Richmond, VA and San Mateo County, CA. Superintendents of five other school districts that are participating in the Yale Initiative for the first time this year nominated teachers to become National Fellows from the Diné Nation; San José, CA; and Tulsa, OK. Other National Fellows come from Teachers Institutes that are members of the League of Teachers Institutes® located in Charlotte, NC; New Castle County, DE; New Haven, CT; Philadelphia, PA; and Pittsburgh, PA.

The dual purposes of the national seminars are to provide public school teachers deeper knowledge of the subjects they teach and first-hand experience with the Teachers Institute approach to high-quality professional development. This increases their leadership in a League Teachers Institute or prepares them to lead the development of a new Teachers Institute. Each participating teacher writes a curriculum unit to teach his or her students what they learn in seminar and to share with other teachers in their school district and, over the Internet, with teachers internationally. The curriculum units address the academic standards of the teachers’ school districts and assist the teachers in engaging and educating the students in their school courses.

The seminars, which began on May 6 and concluded in August, were:

  • “Chemistry of Everyday Things,” led by Gary W. Brudvig, Professor of Chemistry and of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry;
  • “The Art of Reading People: Character, Expression, Interpretation,” led by Jill Campbell, Professor of English;
  • “Love and Politics in the Sonnet,” led by Paul H. Fry, Professor of English;
  • “The Idea of America,” led by Bryan Garsten, Professor of Political Science;
  • “Great Ideas of Primary Mathematics,” led by Roger E. Howe, Professor of Mathematics, and Amanda Folsom, Assistant Professor of Mathematics;
  • “The Big Easy: Literary New Orleans and Intangible Heritage,” led by Joseph R. Roach, Professor of Theater, of English, of African American Studies, and of American Studies; and
  • “Organs and Artificial Organs,” led by W. Mark Saltzman, Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering.

Participants, who lived on the Yale campus during the two-week Intensive Session in July, included not only the Yale National Fellows but also directors of Teachers Institutes and college and university faculty members who have led or may lead local Teacher Institute seminars at other locations. Between July 11 and 22 Fellows attended ten two-hour daily meetings of their seminars and conferred individually with their seminar leaders. One National Fellow served as the Coordinator of each seminar. The Coordinators were Carol P. Boynton of New Haven, Intisar Hamidullah of Charlotte, Deborah A. James of New Haven, Elizabeth R. Lasure of Charlotte, Eric J. Laurenson of Pittsburgh, and Barbara A. Prillaman and Nancy Rudolph, both of New Castle County, Delaware.

College and university faculty members who have led local Institute seminars and those from institutions that are considering a new Teachers Institute observed national seminars. They and directors met about faculty roles within an Institute and the institutional partnership an Institute represents between a school district and a college or university. They met with national seminar leaders about what they observed and with other experienced seminar leaders about the seminar and curriculum unit writing process.

Teams from each school district that is considering a Teachers Institute met with the Director of the Yale National Initiative, James R. Vivian, to discuss their potential Teachers Institute. At the conclusion of the Intensive Session, eight Fellows were named their districts’ teacher Representatives. The Representatives, who have responsibility for planning and implementing Initiative activities locally and nationally, and their school districts are:

Molly Myers- Chicago, IL
Stephen J. Griffith - DeKalb County, GA
Marilyn Dempsey - Diné Nation
Laura Turner - Emery Unified, CA
Valerie J. Schwarz - Richmond, VA
Jeffry K. Weathers - San Mateo County, CA
Aimee MacSween - San José, CA
Audra Bull - Tulsa, OK

The Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools is a long-term endeavor to influence public policy on teacher professional development, in part by establishing exemplary Teachers Institutes in high-need school districts in states throughout the country. Legislation pending in the United States Congress would support the development of new Teachers Institutes in as many as forty states over the next five years. The legislation, the Teachers Professional Development Institutes Act, was introduced on June 21 by Senators Joseph Lieberman (I, CT) and Richard Blumenthal (D, CT) and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D, CT-3) and Chaka Fattah (D, PA-2). Cosponsors include Senator Chris Coons (D, DE) and Congressmen John Carney (D, DE-At Large) and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D, IL-3).

Following the approach developed in New Haven and implemented in other cities, Teachers Institutes are educational partnerships between universities and school districts designed to strengthen teaching and learning in a community’s public schools. The League of Teachers Institutes is an alliance that advances their work locally and nationally. Evaluations have shown that the Institute approach exemplifies the characteristics of the highest-quality teacher professional development, enhances teacher quality in the ways known to improve student achievement, and encourages participants to remain in teaching in their schools.

Yale National Initiative®, Yale-New Haven Teachers Institutes®, and League of Teachers Institutes® are registered trademarks of Yale University.