Public School Teachers Complete Program at Yale

Yale National Fellows Lead Professional Efforts for Their Communities

    National seminars, July 2017.

    Sixty-three public school teachers from twenty school districts in eight states and the District of Columbia have completed national seminars and an Intensive Session as part of the Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools®.

    Fifty-six of the teachers, named Yale National Fellows, were from school districts that are planning or exploring the establishment of a new Teachers Institute for the Bay Area, CA; Chicago, IL; the Diné Nation; the District of Columbia; Pittsburgh, PA; Richmond, VA; San José, CA; and Tulsa, OK. Other National Fellows came from existing Teachers Institutes located in New Castle County, DE; New Haven, CT; and Philadelphia, PA. Overall, more than half of the National Fellows were participating in national seminars for the first time.

    The 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 heightens their leadership in an existing Teachers Institute or prepares them to lead the development of a new Teachers Institute. Each teacher writes a curriculum unit to teach his or her students about the seminar subject and to share with other teachers in their school district and, over the Internet, with teachers anywhere. The curriculum units implement academic standards of the teachers’ school districts and assist the teachers in engaging and educating the students in their school courses.

    The 2017 seminars, which began on May 5 and concluded in mid-August, were:

    • “The Illustrated Page: Medieval Manuscripts to New Media,” led by Jessica Brantley, Professor of English;
    • “Chemistry of Cooking,” led by Gary W. Brudvig, Professor of Chemistry and of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry;
    • “Literature, Life-Writing, and Identity,” led by Jill Campbell, Professor of English;
    • “Poetry and Public Life,” led by Paul H. Fry, Professor of English;
    • “From Arithmetic to Algebra: Variables, Word Problems, Fractions and the Rules,” led by Roger E. Howe, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics; and
    • “Engineering of Global Health,” led by W. Mark Saltzman, Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering.

    A National Fellow served as the Coordinator of each seminar. The Coordinators were Carol P. Boynton of New Haven, Connecticut; Sara Stillman of the Bay Area, California; Valerie J. Schwarz of Richmond, Virginia; and Jo A. Flory, Arcadia Teel, and Krista B. Waldron of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    Participants lived on the Yale campus during the Intensive Session in July. Between July 10 and 21 National Fellows attended ten two-hour daily meetings of their seminars and conferred individually with their seminar leaders. Between July 10 and 13 twenty visiting faculty from eight universities that are partners or prospective partners in a local Teachers Institute took part in a four-day program on the Institute approach. They observed national seminars and learned about faculty roles within an Institute. They met with national seminar leaders about what they observed, and with other experienced seminar leaders about the seminar and curriculum unit writing process.

    The team from each location that is planning or considering a Teachers Institute conferred with the Director of the Yale National Initiative, James R. Vivian, about the potential for establishing a local Teachers Institute and other ways their experience at Yale might support them and their school district. At the conclusion of the Intensive Session, eight Fellows were named their districts’ teacher Representatives for the coming year. The Representatives, who lead the planning and implementing of Initiative activities locally and nationally, are:

    Brandon BarrChicago Public Schools, Chicago, IL
    Debra TitusPittsburgh Public Schools, PA
    Zachary MeyersDistrict of Columbia Public Schools, Washington, DC
    Valerie J. SchwarzRichmond Public Schools, Richmond, VA
    Jolene R. SmithGanado Unified and Kayenta Unified School Districts, Diné Nation, AZ and NM
    Sara StillmanBerkeley Unified, Emery Unified, and Oakland Unified School Districts, Bay Area, CA
    Jennifer VermillionEast Side Union, Franklin-McKinley, and San José Unified School Districts, San José, CA
    Krista B. WaldronTulsa Public Schools, Tulsa, OK

    Superintendents will accompany the National Fellows when they return to Yale for the Annual Conference on October 27-28.

    The Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools, now in its thirteenth year, is a long-term endeavor to influence public policy on teacher professional development, in part by establishing exemplary Teachers Institutes for high-poverty, high-minority schools 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.

    Teachers Institutes are educational partnerships between universities and school districts designed to strengthen teaching and learning in a community’s high-need public schools. Evaluations have shown that the Institute approach exemplifies the characteristics of high-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 Institute®, and League of Teachers Institutes® are registered trademarks of Yale University.