Public School Teachers Complete Yale Program

Yale National Fellows Lead Professional Efforts for Their Communities

New Haven..... Forty-one public school teachers from fourteen school districts in nine states have completed national seminars and an Intensive Session as part of the Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools®.

Twenty-eight 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; Pittsburgh, PA; Richmond, VA; San José, CA; Tulsa, OK; and locations in Texas. Other National Fellows come from existing Teachers Institutes located on the Navajo Nation, AZ; and in New Castle County, DE; New Haven, CT; and Philadelphia, PA. Overall, half of the National Fellows are participating in national seminars for the first time.

The purposes of the 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 fosters 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 2023 seminars, which began on May 5 and concluded in mid-August, were

  • "Histories of Art, Race and Empire: 1492-1865," led by Timothy Barringer, Paul Mellon Professor in the History of Art;
  • "Writing About Nature," led by Jill Campbell, Professor of English;
  • "Transitions in the Conception of Number: From Whole Numbers to Rational Numbers to Algebra," led by Roger Howe, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of Mathematics;
  • "Environmental Justice," led by Jordan Peccia, Thomas E. Golden, Jr. Professor of Environmental Engineering; and
  • "Nature-Inspired Solutions to Disease Problems," led by Paul Turner, Rachel Carson Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

A National Fellow served as the Coordinator of each seminar. The Coordinators were Brandon Barr of Chicago, Illinois; Carol P. Boynton of New Haven, Connecticut; Mark Hartung of San José, California; Tara McKee of Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Valerie J. Schwarz of Richmond, Virginia.

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 met individually with their seminar leader.

The team from each location conferred with the Director of the Yale National Initiative, James R. Vivian, about the ways their experience in the national program strengthens their leadership in an existing Teachers Institute or prepares them to lead the establishment of a new Teachers Institute. At the conclusion of the Intensive Session, five 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:

Mark Hartung School Districts in San José, CA: East Side Union High School District, Franklin-McKinley School District, and San José Unified School District
Brandon Barr Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, IL
Sean Means Pittsburgh Public Schools, Pittsburgh, PA
Valerie Schwarz Richmond Public Schools, Richmond, VA
Tara McKee Tulsa Public Schools, Tulsa, OK

Superintendents will join the National Fellows when they return to Yale for the Annual Conference on November 3-4.

The Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools, now in its nineteenth 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. These Institutes follow the approach developed originally in New Haven and implemented now in other cities.

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 ways known to improve student achievement, and encourages participants to remain in teaching in their schools.

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