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The Klingenstein Center Celebrates Twenty Years of Success

The Klingenstein Fellows program at Teachers College got under way this fall, preparing exceptional teachers from a variety of independent schools--from New Jersey to California to Hong Kong to Massachusetts to Vancouver--for increased responsibility as academic and administrative leaders.

Selected on the basis of a national competition designed to identify school leaders, Klingenstein Fellows receive full tuition and living stipends to spend an entire academic year in residence at Teachers College. Fellows take courses at TC and other graduate schools of Columbia University, pursue individual research projects, and meet in intensive seminars designed to increase their knowledge of current issues confronting both public and private schools in the U.S.

The Klingenstein Fellows Program is only one of four programs sponsored by the Klingenstein Center. The Center also sponsors an annual Summer Institute for 50 young teachers who have demonstrated leadership potential, a month-long fellowship for heads of schools to provide reinvigoration and renewal, and a Master of Arts degree in conjunction with the Department of Organization and Leadership to prepare administrative leaders for private schools.

"Teachers and administrators are the central actors in the education process and the Klingenstein Center acknowledges their seminal roles in influencing the quality of schooling," said Professor Pearl Rock Kane, who has been the Klingenstein Center's Director for the last sixteen years. "But more important," Kane added, "the program seeks to enlarge the perspective of participants to prepare them to take on increased leadership roles when they return to their schools."

This year is a special one in the life of the Klingenstein Center. It marks the 20th anniversary of the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Center for Independent School Education at Teachers College. Professor Kane is looking forward to celebrating the anniversary on February 26, 1998, and honoring John Klingenstein, vice chair of the TC Trustees. Klingenstein, with his brother Fred, made the Center possible through grants from the foundation named for their parents.

Kane and the Klingenstein Advisory Board have planned a gala dinner to honor the work, advice, and nurturing that John Klingenstein and his family have given to the Center for the past two decades.

Professor Kane is absolutely ebullient when she speaks about what John Klingenstein has meant to the Center over the years, and explains why an award will be given to John and Fred Klingenstein this year. "The Center sponsors an annual award for an individual who has touched the lives of students and faculty in enduring ways. It seems fitting on this 20th anniversary to give that award to brothers John and Fred Klingenstein for the exemplary leadership they have displayed in supporting and nurturing more than 1,200 teachers and administrators who have benefited from their direct participation in the Klingenstein programs."

What is so unusual about John Klingenstein, Kane says, is "his personal interest in the Fellows who attend the programs, his participation in programmatic seminars, and his correspondence with the alumni." She credits the long-term success of the Center to the sustained concentration of the Klingenstein Fund in building the programs of the Center.

John Klingenstein, a soft-spoken and self-effacing man who is actively involved in the work of the Center and enjoys participating in its seminars, says that he derives "personal satisfaction" from the work of the Center, and that the Klingenstein Fund has found a definite "niche that is unique in the foundation world with the work of the Center."

Professor Kane, whose affiliation with TC began in 1977 when she was accepted into the Klingenstein Fellows Program, looks back at the work of the Center and says, "In the past, independent schools snobbishly rejected schools of education. Through the Klingenstein Center, independent schools have become aware of a body of knowledge and research that can inform teaching and improve effectiveness." Kane adds, "TC has changed the ways the independent school community views the contribution that the field of education can make to practice." In fact, the Center has positioned TC as the premier graduate school for study, research and leadership development in independent school education.

TC has also benefited from the approximately 150 independent school educators who participate in the Klingenstein programs each year. The evaluators who conducted the assessment and survey of the Center in the fall interviewed professors and administrators about what the Klingenstein Center "brings to Teachers College." They found universal agreement that "the Klingenstein students raise the intellectual level of discourse at Teachers College."

Moneeka Settles from Portland, Oregon, who teaches History and English and is currently the Dean of Student Activities at the Oregon Episcopal School, a K-12 day and boarding school, came to the Summer Institute three years ago and is now a Klingenstein Fellow. "People know about this program and it has clout in the independent school world," she said.

Settles sums up her experience by saying, "Because we are taking TC classes, I am getting more exposure to a diverse group of educators--I can't believe the richness of experience I am getting in the Master's program."

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