Public School Teachers Complete Program at Yale

Yale National Fellows Lead Professional Efforts for Their Communities

    National seminars, July 2019.

    Fifty-two public school teachers from eighteen school districts in ten 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®.

    Thirty-two 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; the Diné Nation, AZ and NM; the District of Columbia; Pittsburgh, PA; Richmond, VA; San José, CA; and Hearne, TX. Other National Fellows come from existing Teachers Institutes located in New Castle County, DE; New Haven, CT; Philadelphia, PA; and Tulsa, OK. Overall, more than half of the National Fellows are 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 reinforces 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 their students about the seminar subject and to share with other teachers in their school district and, through the website at, 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 2019 seminars, which began on May 3 and concluded in mid-August, were:

    • “Reading for Writing: Modeling the Modern Essay,” led by Jessica C. Brantley, Professor of English;
    • “Energy Sciences,” led by Gary W. Brudvig, Benjamin Silliman Professor of Chemistry;
    • “The Problem of Mass Incarceration,” led by James Forman, Jr., J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law;
    • “Perimeter, Area, Volume, and All That: A Study of Measurement,” led by Roger E. Howe, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor Emeritus of Mathematics; and
    • “American Democracy and the Promise of Justice,” led by Ian Shapiro, Sterling Professor of Political Science.

    National Fellows served as the Coordinator of each seminar. The Coordinators were Brandon Barr of Chicago, Illinois; Carol P. Boynton of New Haven, Connecticut; Cristobal R. Carambo of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Irene Jones of the Diné Nation, Arizona; Valerie J. Schwarz of Richmond, Virginia; and Krista B. Waldron of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    Participants lived on the Yale campus during the Intensive Session in July. Between July 8 and 19 National Fellows attended ten two-hour daily meetings of their seminars and conferred individually with their seminar leader. Between July 8 and 12 fifteen faculty members from seven 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, six 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 Barr Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, IL
    Sean Means Pittsburgh Public Schools, Pittsburgh, PA
    Zachary Meyers District of Columbia Public Schools, Washington, D.C.
    Valerie J. Schwarz Richmond Public Schools, Richmond, VA
    Jolene R. Smith School Districts on the Diné Nation
    Vanessa Vitug School Districts in San JosJosé, CA

    Superintendents will accompany the National Fellows when they return to Yale for the Annual Conference on October 25-26.

    The Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools, now in its fifteenth 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.