Public School Teachers Named Yale National Fellows

Leading Development of New Teachers Institutes

The seminar on "Shakespeare and Human Character," July 2009. (Left to right: seminar leader Paul H. Fry and National Fellow Aleco Julius.)

Seventy-five public school teachers from seventeen school districts in nine states have been chosen to participate in national seminars and an Intensive Session as part of the Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools®.

Fifty-one of the teachers, named Yale National Fellows, are from school districts that are planning or exploring the establishment of a new Teachers Institute for Chicago, IL; Diné Nation, AZ; Emeryville, CA; Richmond, VA; San José, CA; San Mateo County, 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 begin on May 4 and conclude in mid-August, include:

  • “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Consumer Culture,” led by Jean-Christophe Agnew, Professor of American Studies and of History;
  •  “Storytelling: Fictional Narratives, Imaginary People, and the Reader’s Real Life,” led by Jill Campbell, Professor of English;
  • “The American Presidency,” led by Bryan Garsten, Professor of Political Science;
  •  “Narratives of Citizenship and Race since Emancipation,” led by Jonathan Holloway, Professor of History, of African American Studies, and of American Studies
  •  “How Drugs Work,” led by W. Mark Saltzman, Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering;
  •  “Asking Questions in Biology: Discovery versus Knowledge,” led by Paul E. Turner, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; and
  • “Energy, Environment, and Health,” led by John P. Wargo, Professor of Environmental Risk Analysis and Policy.

Participants in the two-week Intensive Session in July, who live on the Yale campus, will include not only the Yale National Fellows but also college and university faculty members who have led or may lead local Teachers Institute seminars at partner colleges and universities around the country. Between July 9 and 20, Fellows will attend daily seminar meetings and will confer individually with their seminar leaders. Superintendents and other school officials will accompany the National Fellows when they return to Yale for the Annual Conference on October 26-27.

One National Fellow will serve as the Coordinator of each seminar. The Coordinators are Carol P. Boynton of New Haven, Kathleen G. Gormley of New Castle County, Delaware, Sonia Henze of Pittsburgh, Kristen Kurzawski of Pittsburgh, Elizabeth R. Lasure of Charlotte, Barbara A. Prillaman of New Castle County, Delaware, and Deborah Smithey of Philadelphia.

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 around the country. Following the approach developed in New Haven and implemented in other cities, it builds upon the success of a four-year National Demonstration Project. The League of Teachers Institutes is an alliance that advances their work locally and nationally.

Teachers Institutes are educational partnerships between universities and school districts designed to strengthen teaching and learning in a community’s public schools. 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.