studies safe schools, effects of building on students' learning
issues facing public schools today include safety, curriculum
content and overcrowded, inadequate buildings.
doctoral student James Brooks Tuttle II has spent much of his
time in the Curry
School of Education studying these dilemmas of secondary schools
is a research assistant at Curry School's Thomas
Jefferson Center for Educational Design, where he has been
involved with two studies -- the safe schools initiative and the
effects of the school building's condition on student achievement.
Through his graduate research, he is "trying to identify
schools that are comfortable, efficient environments that improve
student achievement, and that are moving proactively rather than
reactively to being safe schools."
schools are vulnerable to violence and need prevention, intervention
and management strategies to deal with problems should they arise,
Tuttle said. In Virginia, contingency plans have been developed,
special personnel hired, training provided, new policies, programs
and practices adopted, and alternative schools created for chronically
disruptive and dangerous students. The Virginia Secondary Schools
Safety Study instituted by U.Va.'s Thomas Jefferson Center aims
to understand how well the state's efforts are working.
safe-school model Tuttle discovered not too far from Grounds was
the Walker Middle School's Civility Program. He obtained permission
from the school to collect data on the program for a year. Elements
of the pilot he found effective included "using the first
week of school to talk not about academics, but about how to treat
others and how to handle negativity, then export these ideas into
the community," he said. The success of any safe-school program
"will be predicated on how much the community reinforces
these efforts outside of school," he said.
Tuttle is the lead researcher on a study of Clarke County's renovation
of Johnson-Williams Middle School.
improvements include adding several rooms with natural light and
working windows, a new exterior fašade and air conditioning system,
and upgrading the library. Tuttle is evaluating "the effect
of a building's condition on student achievement ... how you feel
about where you are and how the community perceives you [for being
where you are] having an effect on your achievement. It's hard
to prove but entirely logical," said Tuttle, who is trying
to quantify these factors.
getting a bachelor's degree in English and French and a master's
degree in English from James Madison University, Tuttle taught
high school English, SAT verbal prep and journalism for 10 years
before entering U.Va.'s doctoral program in curriculum and instruction
in 1997. He will complete his Ph.D. soon and plans to teach at
the college level. As a professor, he hopes to create for himself
a position "as a link between state resources and schools
most in need of those resources," something that doesn't
exist now, he said.