NYT: Teachers College at Columbia University Adding National... | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation

NYT: Teachers College at Columbia University Adding National Teaching Center

Teachers College at Columbia University will use its largest single gift, $10.8 million from Gerard and Lilo Leeds, to create a center to provide additional training and support for high school teachers, the college has announced. The center, to be called the National Academy for Excellent Teaching, will initially serve teachers and principals from low-performing city high schools.

Gerard and Lilo Leeds have made the largest single gift in Teachers College history to bolster the academic achievement of low-income high school students in New York City and across the United States. The $10.8-million grant will establish the National Academy for Excellent Teaching, which will bring together prominent faculty, experts, researchers, and outstanding teachers to reinvent how the nation can upgrade the skills and knowledge of high school educators for higher student achievement.

The Academy, based at Teachers College, will provide rigorous, on-site and online support and coaching for educators in high schools designated as "high need" disadvantaged public high schools, the Schools under Registration Review. Over the next six years, the Academy will expand to work with principals and teachers in other school districts and states nationwide.

According to initial plans, the Academy will serve at least 1,720 teachers and 43,000 students in New York City alone, serve more than 3,700 schools and almost 2 million students nationwide by 2014.

"It's no surprise that performance in math and reading show signs of improvement in early years but are declining as students go through high school. The Academy will help teachers and leaders raise academic performance by focusing on what research says helps low-performing students gain crucial content and the literacy skills they lack to be effective learners," says Teachers College President Arthur Levine, who worked with the Leeds to develop the Academy.

In the words of funder Gerard Leeds, "The grant is meant to put more attention on the high school, which has been the stepchild of school reform, and on the six million low-performing students in secondary school, whose literacy and learning needs have been even more grossly neglected."

New Models for Literacy and School Change
The National Academy for Excellent Teaching will assemble the best experts - including Teachers College faculty and researchers, New York City teachers, and adolescent literacy and professional development specialists - to redesign an effective model of professional development for high school teachers. As part of its strategy for strengthening high schools, the Academy will:

  • Provide school-based coaching for teachers at each participating school;
  • Establish unique, five-year partnerships with schools that will provide on-site and online professional development;
  • Sponsor summer institutes to develop literacy across the curriculum, deepen academic content, and improve teaching skills;
  • Create opportunities for teachers to observe expert teachers and have their own lessons critiqued by experts and peers; and
  • Provide leadership seminars for principals from the participating schools to help strengthen their skills as instructional leaders.

"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 New York City with schools in other states," says Levine. "The teachers in this program will have a national network of other teachers, coaches and experts to support them in the years to come."

Leaders of other universities and colleges of education will observe the Academy's development in New York and plan for its replication in communities across the nation. Teachers College intends to establish 35 similar academies in different regions of the country over the next 10 years, with 15 of them operated by the National Academy for Excellent Teaching and 20 operated by partner organizations.

Published Wednesday, Sep. 3, 2003