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Teachers College Picks Former New York City Board of Education President Carol Gresser to Direct Institute for School Board Leadership

Carol Gresser, former president of the New York City Board of Education, will serve as director of The Institute for School Board Leadership at Teachers College.

Carol Gresser, former president of the New York City Board of Education, will serve as director of The Institute for School Board Leadership at Teachers College. The advisory board for the project consists of board members and superintendents from districts that have been successful in garnering the support of business and the extended school community.

The following people have agreed to be on the advisory board: Betty Allen, founder and president of the Harlem School of the Arts; Phillip Coltoff, executive director of the Children's Aid Society; Judith E. Moore, member of Community School Board 3; Robert Spillane, former superintendent of the Fairfax County Public Schools; and Dorothy Wilner, member of Community School Board 30.

Developing a Model Program

"We have neglected the critical role school boards play in the education of children," Gresser said. "School board members, whether elected or appointed, are the representatives of the community. They articulate the community's concerns, advocate for children, and educate the community about the importance of public education."

Gresser is meeting with board members, superintendents, university faculty and school reform experts to develop a model program that will emphasize improved student achievement through the involvement of the community.

"The new standards are based on the skills adults need in the modern workplace," said Peter Comeau, Associate Director of the Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation at Teachers College. "Urban schools will find it difficult to help students achieve new or higher standards unless they are able to draw on business and community resources. School boards are critical in making that connection."

School Board Challenges

One of the challenges school boards face is the fact that only 25 percent of the population has school-age children. Board members need to draw in the other 75 percent of the community to support the schools-parents whose children are no longer in the schools, seniors, business people. The new program will emphasize communication among parents, teachers, community residents, business and political leaders and directors of community and cultural organizations.

"They have to educate those people to the benefits of a viable school system," Gresser said. "People have to understand that everybody wins when the school system works." With a good school system, she added, an area can attract new people to move into the neighborhood.

A Long History in Education

Gresser brings 30 years of experience in the field of education to her position. She has been a public school teacher, a school volunteer, and a PTA president. Gresser was appointed to the New York City Board of Education in 1990 and re-appointed in 1994 for a second four-year term. She was elected four times to serve as its President. In February 1998, she was the only school board member in the nation who was invited to participate in a conference held at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. The conference looked at the relationship of the physical school environment to educational outcomes.

In addition to being a guest lecturer and speaker, Gresser is an educational consultant and writes a newspaper column for a Queens, New York, newspaper. She also serves as Commissioner of the New York State Northeast Queens Environmental and Historic Preserve Commission. She is a member of several boards and advisory councils throughout New York.

As part of its mission, Teachers College, Columbia University, works to develop leadership skills of people involved in education. The College has created institutes that provide professional development to superintendents, school principals, assistant principals, and new teachers as well as education seminars for government officials and the media.

Published Wednesday, Jun. 26, 2002