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Office of School and Community Partnerships
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University

Curriculum Support

THIS year 101 expectant ninth graders at Heritage High School in East Harlem are planning to publish their thoughts and opinions of the area in a book that will be distributed to school teachers and peers around New York City.

Uzma Akhand’s task is to help their teacher organize, plan, oversee everything within s strict production schedule – and all at no cost to his sanity.

Akhand is a consultant with the Student Press Initiative (SPI), a professional development program designed to help teachers incorporate writing in purposeful ways The program, currently running in 12 schools, lasts one full school year and culminates in public demonstrations of the students’ work.

In another SPI project, students from the Millennium Art Academy published a book of oral histories given by nine senior citizens in the Bronx. Also, tenth graders at Bayard Rustin Educational Complex produced an advisory handbook for teens covering a issues ranging from peer pressure to abuse and discrimination.

Akhand says: “These projects show students that their perspective is valuable and that they can take ownership of their experience.”

Participation in the year-long SPI experience costs $50,000 but external funds may be available to match costs. SPI is working to make more web-based materials and services available for free.

For more information on SPI, call: (212).678-8120, or visit:

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