Public School Teachers Complete Program at Yale

Public school teachers from thirteen school districts in nine communities in eight states have completed national seminars and an Intensive Session as participants in the Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools®.

About three fifths of the fifty-eight teachers, named Yale National Fellows, were from five communities that are planning or exploring the establishment of a new Teachers Institute: Chicago, IL; DeKalb County, GA; New Castle County, DE; Richmond, VA; and the Bay Area in CA. Other National Fellows were from existing Institutes in Charlotte, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and New Haven that are members of the League of Teachers Institutes®.

The twin purposes of the program were to acquaint public school teachers with the Teachers Institute approach to high-quality professional development, and to cultivate their leadership in either creating or sustaining such an Institute. Each participating teacher wrote a curriculum unit to teach his or her students what they learned, to share with teachers in their school district, and to disseminate to other teachers internationally over the Internet.

The six seminars led by Yale faculty members, which began in early May and concluded in August, included:

  • “Poems about Works of Art, Featuring African American, Hispanic, and Women Writers,” led by Paul H. Fry, William Lampson Professor of English;
  • “Persuasion in Democratic Politics,” led by Bryan Garsten, Professor of Political Science;
  • “Creating Lives: An Introduction to Biography,” led by Langdon L. Hammer, Professor of English and of American Studies;
  • “The Mathematics of Wallpaper,” led by Roger E. Howe, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Mathematics;
  • “Nanotechnology and Human Health,” led by W. Mark Saltzman, Goizueta Foundation Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering; and
  • “Evolutionary Medicine,” led by Paul E. Turner, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology;

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, planning directors for new Institutes, and twenty college and university faculty members who have led or may lead local Teacher Institute seminars. Between July 5 and 16 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, Jeffrey C. Joyce of Charlotte, Kristen Kurzawski of Pittsburgh, Eric J. Laurenson of Pittsburgh, Samuel A. Reed of Philadelphia, and Connie S. Wood of Charlotte.

College and university faculty members who have led local Institute seminars and those from institutions that are partners in establishing 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, and the purpose and function of a University Advisory Council in a Teachers Institute.

Teams from each city or county that is planning or 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, five Fellows were named their communities’ teacher Representatives. The Representatives, who have responsibility for planning and implementing Initiative activities locally and nationally, and their cities are:

Molly Myers

Chicago, IL

Stephen J. Griffith

DeKalb County, GA

Barbara A. Prillaman

New Castle County, DE

Valerie J. Schwarz

Richmond, VA

Jeffry K. Weathers

San Francisco, CA

The Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools is a long-term endeavor to establish exemplary Teachers Institutes in high-need school districts in states throughout the country. Following the approach developed in New Haven and demonstrated 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 enhances teacher quality in the ways known to improve student achievement and encourages participants to remain in teaching in urban schools. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute®participants were twice as likely as non-participants to remain in teaching in New Haven.

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