SU, Syracuse City School District launch comprehensive partnership
SU, Syracuse City School District launch comprehensive partnershipAugust 30, 2005Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
At an event held this morning at Nottingham High School, Syracuse University Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor and Syracuse City School District (SCSD) Interim Superintendent Robert DiFlorio announced a new partnership between SU and SCSD, titled the “SU/SCSD Partnership for Better Education.” Beginning this fall, the project will enhance learning at Nottingham through a pilot program that will infuse the arts into the school’s curriculum in targeted ways, primarily through SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Other main features of the Partnership include:
- Administrative leadership at both SU and the SCSD will promote an institutional emphasis on the establishment of strategic collaborations between the University and the school district.
- For the first time, there will be a comprehensive and systematic structure for designing, implementing, organizing and evaluating the dozens of joint activities involving SU and SCSD.
- Once established, the model for cooperation will expand throughout the University and the entire Syracuse district, and be referred to as a best practice among partnerships of higher education and public schools.
“By providing leadership at an institutional level we are building a very clear framework-not only for the success of our pilot, but for future collaborations with other quadrants in the Syracuse City School District,” Cantor says. “These are highly intentional partnerships selected because of complementary strengths at both the University and school district levels.”
Although the partnership will initially operate mostly within Nottingham (and in the elementary and middle schools that feed into it), with support from SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, as the pilot progresses, other SU schools and colleges will participate. Eventually, the partnership will provide a model for other quadrants of the SCSD system, putting institution-wide support from SU and SCSD behind innovative ideas in all parts of the district.
The partnership is designed to complement the collective and individual efforts by many local institutions in support of SCSD. It will systematically find matches between needs within Nottingham’s curriculum and SU’s areas of strength, mirroring four themes outlined by Chancellor Cantor: the arts, literacy, science and technology, and inclusion. Nottingham was selected by the district as the pilot school because of its newly established learning community in the creative arts, which has been encouraged by Principal Debra Mastropaolo.
Among the new programs that will be launched this fall are:
- Arts curriculum development-Six faculty members and administrators from SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts have been working for several months with a group of Nottingham teachers, forming a think tank to develop new curricular ideas in the areas of art, music, drama, video and film for Nottingham’s learning community in the arts. The first of these ideas will become reality this fall, when SU Professor Owen Shapiro is to collaborate with Len Fonte, Nottingham teacher and drama coach, to teach Nottingham students about screenwriting as part of Fonte’s English class.
- Performing arts-SU’s Pulse performing arts program will be opened up to Nottingham students. Pulse organizers will work with Nottingham teachers to identify the most appropriate events for Nottingham students to attend, and help plan students’ participation, transportation, chaperoning and after-event classroom activities. Plans call for Nottingham students to see performances by the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, SU Drama and others.
- Literacy through the arts-VPA Professor Judith Meighan will enhance SCSD teachers’ abilities to teach visual literacy, providing training in Literacy Through Photography and facilitating teachers’ enrollment in a Visual Thinking Strategies workshop hosted by the Everson Museum of Art.
New programs that are in the planning stages include:
- Adolescent literacy initiative-SU School of Education faculty are currently developing adolescent literacy programming, which will culminate in Nottingham students attending a presentation of SU’s University Lecture series. SU faculty and graduate students also plan to host professional development seminars for Nottingham and Fowler High School teachers, focused on teaching related to complete literacy leading up to graduation.
- Film series-“Beyond Borders: The Illusion of Normalcy in Film” is a fall series sponsored by School of Education-affiliated Center on Disability Studies, Law and Human Policy and the Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee. Following on the success of previous film events related to disability and diversity, the Sept. 12 installment of the series will be made available to Nottingham students, with faculty and community members helping contextualize and facilitate discussion of “Million Dollar Baby.”
- Visual literacy instruction-As early as the Spring 2006 semester, SU students will enroll in a Literacy Through Photography course taught by Meighan and Professor Doug DuBois. Students will work with fifth-grade students at the Edward Smith Elementary School on Literacy Through Photography projects.
- Enhancement of classroom content-Faculty and graduate students from the School of Education, The College of Arts and Sciences, and the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science will participate in biology classrooms at Nottingham. Led by SU faculty, teams of teachers and graduate students will use environmental issues to connect Nottingham pupils with basic science, mathematics, engineering and technology (SMET) concepts. Support for this initiative comes in part from the National Science Foundation.
The partnership will complement the many other continuing collaborations between SU and SCSD, including the SU Literacy Corps, SU Project Advance, existing professional development partnerships, student teaching and social work field placements, SU GEAR-UP and others. Additionally, SU has reaffirmed its commitment to the Syracuse Challenge, a 12-year-old program that supports SCSD students from eighth grade onward and provides scholarships to students who qualify to attend SU.
“There have been a multitude of wonderful collaborative projects, but none as significant as this. Now we’re talking about teaming our teachers with SU faculty from across all of SU’s schools and colleges, not just with specific departments,” says DiFlorio. “The pilot project at Nottingham will serve as a model program that will filter into the middle school and feeder schools, causing a systemic change in not only how we teach, but in the quality of the curriculum and resources that we can provide our students-it’s magnificent.”