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Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders in Education

Students who attend the College today will be the educational leaders of tomorrow. TC students and alumni are frequent contributors to research projects or activities that have an impact on the community. Scholarships make it possible for them to complete their studies or work on the projects that are driving them forward toward their future role in education.

Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers

Stephen Thornton

Impact of 9/11 on Social Studies Teaching

Preparing tomorrow's teachers involves incorporating today's lessons into classroom practice. In light of our country's current situation as a result of the attacks of September 11, 2001, the ways in which social studies and history are taught have become an important consideration for educators.

Stephen J. Thornton, Associate Professor of Social Studies Education, in an interview with the Charleston Post and Courier, reflected on the situation by saying that during World War II, German-Americans were singled out and Japanese-Americans were put in internment camps. The message these days, he said, is that those who carried out the attacks on September 11th are not reflective of Muslims. "It's an important educational contribution after decades of teaching that we have to live in a pluralistic society and tolerance is important," he said.

He added that teachers will likely pay more attention to the role of religions in world history and more attention to civil liberties and national security issues in civics or American history. "The way social studies teachers are addressing the issue of September 11th will have a long-term effect," he said. "It seems that large-scale curriculum changes are hard to bring about and long-term changes will have to be incorporated by educating teachers, themselves."

To that end, Thornton collaborated with colleague Professor Margaret Smith Crocco on a three-year professional development program for teachers of American history, including bilingual and special education teachers, from all 38 Manhattan high schools. The project, known as the Enduring Themes in American History (ETAH) grant, supported by the U.S. Department of Education's Teaching American History Grants Program, aims to develop a critical mass of teacher-historians. These teachers will improve their students' performance by gaining a stronger understanding in and practice in teaching American history. For more details, click here.

Students Making Their Mark

Students at Teachers College are encouraged to and supported in creating their own ways of furthering the goals of strengthening efforts to reach people through quality education. That education does not necessarily have to take place in the classroom.

As part of her dissertation research, Adrienne Stevens Zion, who received her Ed.D. in May 2002 from TC, looked at the family history of hypertension in African-American males and compared it to a similar group of non-African Americans. She found that black males have disproportionate detrimental consequences of hypertension compared to any other group in the United States, leading to enormous financial costs related to medical and disability expenses. She was supported in her work by her advisor Professor Ronald De Meersman, who was also co-investigator on the study.

Zion noted that if markers of disease risk are verified in young asymptomatic African Americans, they can minimize the onset and progression of cardiovascular disease by making lifestyle changes early on. The study is especially relevant to the American Physiological Society, an organization that specializes in understanding the processes and functions underlying human health and disease, which has embarked on an aggressive campaign to build public awareness of physiology and the benefits it provides to human health.

Her research, which looked at race, arterial compliance, and autonomic modulation, was awarded the prestigious Caroline tum Suden/Francis Hellebrandt Professional Opportunity Award by the American Physiological Society.

It's not only the doctoral students at TC who are working to make their mark on education. Sophia Ali, who received her master's degree in Developmental Psychology in May 2002, is making educational and media history in her native Pakistan by producing a half-hour television show for children, the most neglected segment of Pakistani television's target audience. For details, click here.

Alumni Working Toward a Better World Through Education

Educating Through Heroic Example

TC alumna Kathleen Morin was working as a consultant to several not-for-profit organizations in 1990 when she was enlisted to help develop and launch a new classroom education program for the Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States. The theme was "A Study of Heroes: A Program that Inspires and Educates Through Heroic Example," and was a multicultural, interdisciplinary K-12 program.

She soon learned that Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who, at great personal risk, leveraged his position to save the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II. He was never seen again after being arrested by the Soviet military after the war.

In the early stages of the program, Morin said that polls showed that young people named sports and entertainment figures as their heroes-and virtually all of them were men. Morin and the chairperson of the committee, Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim, spent the following year in places from kindergarten classes to senior centers telling the story of Raoul Wallenberg to generate interest in their new program. Students soon began to recognize the difference between a hero and a celebrity.

All told, Morin and Bernheim spent four years "camping out" in classrooms in New York City and North Carolina, fine-tuning their program. A core element, suggested by one teacher, is that the kids are encouraged to come up with their own concept of a hero and not memorize someone else's construct.

A new unit they have developed explores "The Heroes of 9/11"-and looks at police and firefighters who figured directly in the rescue and recovery efforts following the 2001 terrorist attacks, as well as on the many healthcare workers, volunteers and others who respond daily to emergency needs across the country. The unit will emphasize that one needn't have spent time at Ground Zero to be considered heroic.

Promoting Development Through Art Education

Another alumnus, Rob Horowitz, who is also an adjunct Associate Professor of Music Education, is doing research and evaluations of arts partnerships-of what students learn from the arts-and basic research on how the arts affect development and schools. As Associate Director of Learning In and Through the Arts, Horowitz co-authored a national report funded by the GE Fund and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on the impact of the arts and learning with Professors Judith Burton and Hal Abeles.

"There is a debate in the field of arts education-whether arts should be taught as instrumental to other subjects, or whether they should be taught for their own sake," Horowitz said.

Schools today, he said, are under tremendous pressure because of high stakes tests, resulting in the arts being pulled back to make time for curriculum issues.

As part of the study Horowitz did with Burton and Abeles, they were one of seven research groups under an umbrella of what was called "Champions of Change." Through their research, he said, "We found various ways in which the arts affect school climate, children's relationships with teachers, and more significantly, connections between arts learning and cognitive, social and personal development."

He continued, "When we worked on ‘Champions of Change,' we found that looking at reading and math scores is not a credible way to look at an outcome of arts learning."

One area that was particularly striking, Horowitz said, was that children involved in multiple arts activities take risks and chances in their learning community. They also found that, through arts experiences and performances, teachers see aspects of children that they might not have gotten to understand, and it changes the relationship and can change the child's trajectory in school.

"Children who are engaged in the arts start to see themselves as good at something else besides the traditional subjects, and it gives them a chance to excel in different ways. That can change their relationship with peers," Horowitz said.

He recently received a grant from the Department of Education for the ArtsConnection-a New York City provider of arts education to New York City schools-to set up artist residencies in various schools. The grant will be used to prepare artists and teachers to work together in the schools and to apply their principals and practices at other schools.

Investing in the Future

Jeffrey Peek, a member of the Board of Trustees since 1998, who served on several Board committees including the National Campaign Committee, was looking for some way to honor his late father-in-law Robert Lewis Taylor, a longtime writer for The New Yorker and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the 1959 novel, The Travels of Jamie McPheeters. Knowing that the TC Capital Campaign's first priority is to raise funds to assist students through scholarships, Peek and his wife Elizabeth decided to create the Robert Lewis Taylor Scholarship, which he said will allow "generations of gifted students" the opportunity to attend Teachers College.

Peek is concerned about future generations of leaders, and he sees education as the answer. "If there's a way we're going to move society forward, it certainly has to be substantially through education, and there's no better institution than Teachers College to fulfill that mission."

The first Robert Lewis Taylor Scholar is Carrie Gardner, who is working towards her master's degree in Social Studies and Education. Gardner, who grew up in Ridgefield, New Jersey, and received her bachelor's degree from Tufts University, is pursuing her degree to switch careers. She worked in media relations in Boston, but said she found it "personally unfulfilling." She said, "The scholarship was an enormous incentive in my decision-making process to attend Teachers College. TC is a great institution, but the scholarship certainly helped."

This year, the Committee for Community and Diversity (CCD) has chosen two students to receive its $3,000 grant for research to enhance and expand the understanding of diversity. This year's recipients are Leanne M. Stahnke, a doctoral student in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching, and Kenneth A. Kozol, Ed.M. candidate in the Department of Arts and Humanities. Stahnke's research looks at how youth activism plays a role for students in under-funded schools. Kozol's project focuses on the folk music of children from Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. For details, click here.

John Dewey Scholars

John Dewey Scholars receive financial assistance from the general scholarship fund, which is made up in part by gifts to the TC Annual Fund. The scholars are named in honor of those members of the John Dewey Circle who contribute more than $10,000 to the TC Fund. A reception in November at Casa Italiana brought together donors to the Fund and some of the Dewey scholars who benefit from their generosity.

It was a cabaret-inspired evening of food, drink, art and musical entertainment that was provided as a thank you to the members of the John Dewey Circle. Among the musical performers was the Heritage School Jazz Band under the direction of Jesus Santiago, an M.A. graduate in Music Education from TC, who also played alto sax. The Heritage School is a New York City public high school in East Harlem devoted to the arts that was founded by Teachers College in 1997. Trustee Joyce Cowin has been an active supporter of the school since its inception.

One of the Dewey scholars, Gina Buontempo, was asked to speak at the event. A fourth year doctoral student in Social-Organizational Psychology, she said, "Know that your donations to the fund do not go unrecognized. It is evident from your generosity that you still feel a connection to Teachers College, and it is this that serves as an inspiration to those of us who are currently attending the College."

Victor Lin and Sun Ho Joo, Ed.D. students in the Music Education Program, and Naoko Hashimoto, an M.A. student in Music Education, also entertained the guests. As a final treat, Lin's band, The Victor Lin Jazz Trio, awed the crowd with a rendition of "My Shining Hour," receiving a standing ovation.

Dr. Ben D. Wood was a Professor of Collegiate Educational Research at Columbia University and was an early pioneer in learning technologies. He played a key role in the development and proliferation of standardized tests, and was awarded the Teachers College Medal for Distinguished Service in 1969. Through the generosity of the Wood family, the Wood Trust Funds have had a positive effect on the College.

Each year the Ben D. Wood Fellowship Fund provides a three-year, full-tuition scholarship to a new doctoral student studying technology and education. This year, the fund was able to provide fellowships for two students.

The two students who are the Ben D. Wood fellowship recipients in learning technologies, Shuli Gilutz and Julie Youm, are exploring connections between theories of cognitive development and possible applications for instructional technology. They are currently doctoral candidates in the Cognitive Studies program with Professor John Black.

Gilutz and Youm join a distinguished group of former and current fellows. Dan Swartz, the first Ben D. Wood fellow, is now a tenured professor at the Stanford University School of Education.

Gilutz is originally from Israel and received her bachelor's degree in psychology and the multidisciplinary program in the arts from Tel Aviv University. She earned a master's degree in learning design and technology from Stanford University. Prior to coming to Teachers College, Gilutz worked in the field of interactive design creating Web sites and CD-ROMs for kids. Her most recent project was a research study for the Nielsen Norman group on Web usability for kids.

Youm studied Mechanical Engineering as an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University before going on to work for many years as a software developer. She received a master's degree in computer science from Johns Hopkins University. Youm became interested in education while working at Apple. Though she was not directly involved in educational projects, the company's strong educational focus piqued her interest in developing software for an instructional setting. She began studying part-time in the Instructional Technologies department in 2002. The Wood fellowship allowed her to enter the Cognitive Studies Department as a full-time doctoral student.

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