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Campaign Exceeds Goal with $10.8 Million Gift

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Lilo and Gerard Leeds

Lilo and Gerard Leeds

With a $10.8 million gift, the Campaign for Teachers College has surpassed its $140 million goal and continues. The gift, the largest in TC's history, is from Gerard and Lilo Leeds for The National Academy for Excellent Teaching at TC. The Academy will provide professional development to teachers and principals in secondary schools in New York and across America serving predominantly high need, underserved and underperforming students.

The Leeds chose to partner with TC on this Academy because they see professional development for high school teachers as a major part of the solution for improving education. With its commitment to involve all teachers in the participating schools, the Academy will build five-year partnerships with each participating school by blending the best of on-site and online professional development, strengthened by school-based coaching. The goal is to improve the student achievement of entire schools.

The Academy brings together TC faculty from many disciplines and engages them with teachers, principals and superintendents. The curriculum, which is focused on quality teaching as the key to increasing school achievement, will help to improve secondary schools in New York City and across America in significant and measurable ways. The vision and passion of the Leeds are the catalysts for making this change happen.

"We are very impressed with the faculty of Teachers College, and their vision of the Academy," said the Leeds. "Our aim is to support secondary education because it doesn't get much emphasis. If we help to make it possible for every child to have a great education, then we will have made a contribution to our nation."

Using New York City as its initial base of operation, the Academy will work with 105 public high schools in its first six years.

"Through the Leeds grant, Teachers College will have an unprecedented opportunity to redesign professional development for our nation. Today it is too often only a grab bag of individual courses and day-long experiences for teachers and administrators with no lasting impact on schools," said Arthur Levine, President of Teachers College, who is on sabbatical. "Our goal is to transform professional development so that the focus shifts from the random to the purposeful, from the individual teacher to the whole school, from an emphasis on teaching to student learning and achievement, and from the immediate to the long term. With a growing number of teachers being hired without pre-service education, particularly in our most hard-pressed schools, the importance of professional development takes on a new urgency as an essential tool for teacher education and school improvement."

Throughout those first six years, the Academy will invite leaders of other universities and schools of education to observe and study the program and to encourage replication across the nation. During the fourth year, the Academy will begin to work with schools in other states.

"The Academy will be an example of true partnerships. In addition to the work with teachers and principals, we will build a sense of community within each high school, then throughout their regions and finally reach out to share what we've learned here in NYC with schools in other states," said Acting President Darlyne Bailey. "The teachers in this program will have a national network of other teachers, coaches and experts to support them in the years to come."

The Academy provides a program of professional development to high-need secondary schools combining summer institutes, school year workshops, on-site coaching, and online communications tools and resources aimed at raising student achievement. Two-week summer institutes will offer intensive, interactive knowledge and skill building sessions on developing literacy across the curriculum, academic content, pedagogy, and the learning context of under-performing and under-served secondary level students.  All teachers will spend two summers working in the institutes. 

The curriculum, which is currently being designed and developed by the Curriculum Development Committee headed by Jacqueline Ancess, Co-Director of the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching (NCREST), and Ruth Vinz, Director of the Center for the Professional Education of Teachers (CPET), will address teachers' knowledge base in content and how they teach to underserved high school students, focusing always on quality teaching as the key to increasing student achievement.

There are not many programs that take on intensive partnerships with urban high schools, especially high needs schools. "This model, which we have been shaping since the fall of 2001, is responsive to the expertise of the teachers, principals and other school staff within the urban high school context," said Vinz, who is the Enid and Lester Morse Professor in Teacher Education at TC. "With input from many TC faculty members, we also thought about the strengths and the expertise that could be used and developed at TC."

Though the program will start in New York City, it will be developed into a nationally scaleable model that will help children everywhere. "We are working to create bonds with practitioners so that there are strong professional communities within and across the content areas in high schools. The Academy is particularly important because literacy is the gateway to educational opportunity, social and economic mobility, which constitutes ?the American Dream,'" Ancess said. "It aims to increase the access of children currently denied so they too can partake in fruits of what our democracy represents and promises."

The Leeds, who came to the United States as refugees from Hitler's Germany, have always been passionate about education and learning. After receiving a good educational foundation in Europe, they continued to study here, both earning bachelors and master's degrees. In 1971, they started CMP Publications with The Electronic Buyer's News. They then created Electronic Engineering Times. Their company evolved into one of the largest high-technology media companies, CMP Media, Inc. By 1988, the Leeds appointed one of their sons to take over the business. In 1999, CMP Media was sold to a British Company, United News & Media.

"We had a wonderful education in this country which enabled us to start our own publishing company," said Mrs. Leeds. "Now we have founded the Institute for Student Achievement, a not-for-profit organization that works with schools to prevent children from dropping out of high school. We were lucky to be able to sell our company and devote our funds to teacher education."

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