Delaware Teachers Institute in New Castle County Named a Member of the League of Teachers InstitutesŪ in the Yale National Initiative to Strengthen Teaching in Public SchoolsŪ

Delaware Team at the Annual Conference, October 2010. (Back row, left to right: Raymond F. Theilacker, Director, Delaware Teachers Institute in New Castle County; National Fellow James Foltz; Lillian M. Lowery, Secretary of Education, Delaware Department of Education; Eric W. Rise, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, University of Delaware; Tony J. Marchio, Superintendent, Appoquinimink School District. Middle row, left to right: Steven H. Godowsky, Superintendent, New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District; National Fellow Barbara A. Prillaman; Christine Smith, Manager of Professional Development, Red Clay Consolidated School District; Dorothy A. Linn, Superintendent, Colonial School District; National Fellows Edina B. Buzgon and Nancy Rudolph. Front row, left to right:National Fellows Deborah M. Fetzer and Doriel I. Moorman; Eleanor S. Ludwigsen, Director of School Improvement Services, Christina School District.)

The Yale National Initiative announced on October 29, 2010, that the Delaware Teachers Institute in New Castle County has become the newest member of the League of Teachers Institutes®. The Delaware Institute, an innovative educational partnership among Appoquinimink School District, Christina School District, Colonial School District, New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District, Red Clay Consolidated School District, and the University of Delaware, joins established Teachers Institutes in Charlotte, New Haven, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.

“The Delaware Teachers Institute in New Castle County is an extraordinary collaboration among five School Districts and the University, and a pioneering model of how multiple school districts can partner with a university to create a Teachers Institute,” Initiative Director James R. Vivian said. Vivian announced the Institute’s admission into the League during the Initiative’s sixth Annual Conference, attended by more than 100 teachers, school district administrators, and other representatives from nine participating cities and counties.

“Today we applaud the leadership of teachers in planning the Delaware Teachers Institute, the University’s commitment to working closely with public schools in the Institute, and the exemplary ways the partnership will support district and state goals,” Vivian said.

In describing the Institute earlier this year, Delaware Secretary of Education Lillian M. Lowery concluded: “A successful Delaware Teachers Institute in New Castle County will provide a systemic, far-reaching way to engage numerous public school teachers with University of Delaware faculty members in developing high-quality curriculum units. As our secondary schools help to prepare Delawareans for higher education, a larger proportion of our students will meet the high standards set forth by institutions of higher learning. In the process of curriculum development and in seminars with the University of Delaware’s faculty, our public school teachers will have intimate access to technically accurate and contemporary knowledge in the various academic disciplines. The success of the Teachers Institute in New Castle County will ultimately impact public schools across all three counties in our state.”

Superintendent Steven H. Godowsky of the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District, whose teachers have been participating in the Yale Initiative since 2005, said: “The approval of the Delaware Teachers Institute in New Castle County as a full partner with the Yale National Initiative in the League of Teachers Institutes is the fulfillment of a six-year effort to meaningfully support Delaware teachers and to strengthen public education overall. I have the highest aspirations that our new Teachers Institute in cooperation with the University of Delaware will provide teachers powerful professional learning opportunities that truly make a difference in the classroom.”

Noting that the Institute will support state and district reform plans, Godowsky continued, “The Delaware Teachers Institute is perfectly aligned to our innovative Race to the Top grants and will be an important part of that effort enhancing the skills and knowledge of our dedicated teachers.”

“The Delaware Teachers Institute will become a key component in those features of school reform focused on teacher quality,” said founding director of the Delaware Institute and a four-time National Fellow in the Initiative Raymond F. Theilacker. “As we start the process of forming our first seminars, teachers and University faculty are already expressing excitement about the experience. Let’s face it, the nature of teaching is all about the excitement of learning, and carrying that excitement into the classroom is our mission.”

Barbara A. Prillaman, an English, social studies, and bilingual education teacher at the Conrad Schools of Science in Wilmington, first learned about the Teachers Institute approach in 2008 when she participated in a national seminar at Yale University. Prillaman has since helped lead the effort to implement the Institute model in Delaware. “Not only does the Institute approach provide teachers with opportunities to acquire in-depth content area knowledge, it also enables teachers to take ownership of their own professional development. They become colleagues of higher education professors and help to make the necessary decisions for running an Institute. Teachers are the very heart of this approach.”

Each Teachers Institute links one or more institutions of higher education with school districts that serves a significant proportion of students from low-income communities. Institutes focus on the academic preparation of school teachers and on their application in their own classrooms of what they study in the Institute.

In 2011, almost 50 teachers will participate in four Delaware Teachers Institute seminars, and the Institute plans to increase its offerings in 2012 and 2013. Seminars take place at the University of Delaware’s main campus in Newark. Participating teachers, called Fellows, are treated as members of the University community with identification cards, e-mail accounts, and access to campus facilities.

The Institute initially will target about half of the schools in the partner districts, including three schools in Delaware’s Partnership Zone, the state’s effort to turn around persistently lowest-achieving schools that has been initiated through Race to the Top plans.

“I believe that the Delaware Teachers Institute is the next level of regular professional development for teachers who see their profession as the best way to spread new knowledge and current information, and that the Fellows’ participation in Teachers Institute seminars creates a long-term partnership between K-12 teachers and university professors, assuring that information is delivered, using the best teaching methods, to today’s students,” said Cristina Bacuta, Assistant Professor of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Delaware.

George Watson, Dean of the University’s College of Arts and Sciences, which will house the Institute, stated: “The Institute allows our professors from many disciplines to contribute their content expertise to public school educators through Institute seminars, and the teachers, in turn, will transform the knowledge they gain into teachable curriculum units, consistent with state and school district standards.” Watson continued, “This experience will help underserved populations in New Castle County schools and contribute to retaining outstanding teachers, both of which are important district and state goals.”

For the University, the Institute will add value to its existing relationships with Delaware schools by creating the opportunity for its faculty of arts and sciences to collaborate with Delaware teachers. President Patrick T. Harker commented: “One unique feature of the Institute is its structural reliance on the leadership and decision-making of both the public school teachers and University Faculty members. The University fully supports this partnership and professional development model as one of its community engagement efforts.”

To learn more about the Delaware Teachers Institute, contact Institute director Ray Theilacker at 302-831-2744.

Photographs and a transcript of the Conference session about the Institute can be made available to members of the media.

About Teachers Institutes: Teachers Institutes are educational partnerships between universities and school districts designed to strengthen teaching and learning in a community’s public schools. Each Teachers Institute offers seminars on subjects that school teachers request in the humanities and the sciences. In the seminars, university faculty members contribute their knowledge of a subject, while teachers contribute their expertise in elementary and secondary school pedagogy, their understanding of the students they teach, and their grasp of what works in the classroom. Successful completion of a seminar requires that the teachers, with guidance from a faculty member, each write a curriculum unit to be used in their own classroom and to be shared with others in the same school and other schools through both print and electronic publication.

About Appoquinimink: Enrolling 9,000 students in 14 schools, the mission of the Appoquinimink School District is to provide a world-class education where each student gains the knowledge, understanding, skills, and attitudes needed to contribute and flourish in a global society. Follow Appoquinimink on the Web at

About Christina: The Christina School District is Delaware’s largest public school system, serving 17,000 students in 27 schools. The district serves the City of Newark and its surrounding suburban areas, as well as a portion of the City of Wilmington. Follow Christina on the Web at

About Colonial: Enrolling 10,000 students in 14 schools, the mission of the Colonial School District is to prepare all students to be self-sufficient, responsible citizens by bridging the academic world with the world of work. It serves eastern New Castle County, including the City of New Castle and a portion of the City of Wilmington. Colonial’s system of research-based teaching and learning cultivates students of distinction at high levels. Follow Colonial on the Web at at

About New Castle County Vo-Tech: By offering 4,500 students an innovative curriculum that combines academic instruction, career training, and structured work experiences designed to bridge the gap between classroom learning and workplace skills, the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District provides each student the opportunity to reach his or her potential as a productive and successful member of the community. All middle school students in New Castle County are eligible to apply for admission to one of NCC Vo-Tech’s four technical high schools. Follow NCC Vo-Tech on the Web at at

About Red Clay Consolidated: Serving more than 15,500 students in 29 schools, the Red Clay Consolidated School District is the second largest school system in Delaware. Red Clay includes the northwestern sections of the City of Wilmington and its suburbs. The District’s vision is for all students to acquire the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to live rich and full lives as productive and enlightened members of society. Follow Red Clay on the Web at at

About the University of Delaware: Founded in 1743, the University of Delaware is a comprehensive research university with campuses in Newark, Wilmington, Dover, Georgetown, and Lewes, and teaching facilities in London, Paris, and China. Its student body includes more than 16,000 undergraduates, 3,500 graduate students, and 1,000 students in professional and continuing studies from across the United States and around the world, enrolled in one of four associate’s programs, 130 bachelor’s programs, 79 master’s programs, and 39 doctoral programs. Follow UD on the Web at at

About the Yale National Initiative: 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. The League of Teachers Institutes® is an alliance that advances their work locally and nationally. Evaluations have shown that the Institute approach enhances teacher effectiveness in the ways known to improve student achievement and encourages participants to remain in teaching in urban schools. Follow the Yale National Initiative on the Web at at