Nov. 22, 2004
Catholic University’s Department of Education has received a $200,000 grant to create a professional development program that will benefit teachers at two Washington, D.C., public charter schools as well as provide enhanced learning opportunities for CUA teachers in training.
The one-year grant from the D.C. Public Schools State Education Agency — one of three awarded to District universities — will fund a Collaborative Professional Development School administered by CUA’s education department. The grant will enable CUA teacher candidates to partner with mentors at Capital City Public Charter School and Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School as part of their training.
The program also is expected to improve learning for young students at the two public charter schools, both located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Northwest Washington, in the areas of math, reading, special education and English as a second language.
“The grant represents recognition by the District of Columbia that we are leaders in teacher training,” says Carole Brown, CUA research associate professor and grant project director. “Our CUA education faculty has the capacity in a number of different areas to respond to the needs of these schools.”
As part of the grant, CUA’s education department will set up professional development workshops for teachers at the two public charter schools. Over time the education department will create a regional program, extending professional development opportunities to other schools in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.
The university’s grant proposal drew praise from the funding agency, which described it as “unique in its comprehensive clustering of public and charter schools … This neighborhood approach was rated highly by the independent evaluators of CUA’s proposal and noted for its ambitious goals and objectives.”
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, which sets standards for professional development schools, says that such programs are important because they address the issue of teacher quality. Experts say that teacher quality is critical in meeting the challenge of preparing students for the 21st century.
The principals of both public charter schools say that their teachers are particularly interested in working with university faculty on ways to help ESL students in pre-kindergarten through grade two develop math and oral and written language skills.
Capital City, which moved this fall to a refurbished church at 15th and Irving streets, N.W., has 236 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Fifty-two percent of its students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch and 16 percent are ESL students. Capital City’s curriculum, Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound, is a comprehensive school-reform model that has proven successful at other schools.
At Elsie Whitlow Stokes, where the bilingual curriculum provides instruction in French and English or in Spanish and English, 85 percent of the 250 students in kindergarten through 6th grade qualify for free and reduced-price lunches and 60 percent are ESL students.
“The grant allows our teachers to learn from CUA faculty members and provides support for our teachers in the best classroom practices,” says Karen Dresden, Capital City’s principal. “The result is that our teachers become better teachers. That’s what’s missing in a lot of teacher education programs — making the connection between recognized best practices and what teachers are actually doing in the classroom.”
CUA’s Department of Education aims to develop scholarship, research capabilities and practical skills that contribute to the growth and development of the education field.
The undergraduate elementary education program has been accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education since September 1974 and state approved by the D.C. Board of Education since June 1984. The early childhood and secondary programs have been approved by the national council and the board of education since 1989.
MEDIA: For additional information about the grant, contact Katie Lee in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.
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