Curry partners with local school
Alliance formed to improve academic achievement of students
Curry School/Kathy Kayser
| The Curry School has partnered with Clark Elementary to ensure that at least 80 percent of all third- and fourth-grade students at Clark pass the English Standards of Learning Test by the end of the 2006-2007 school year.
By Kathleen Valenzi
Responding to Gov. Mark R. Warner’s call to higher education to establish partnerships with at-risk K-12 schools or school systems in their communities, the University’s Curry School of Education has formed a strategic alliance with George Rogers Clark Elementary School in Charlottesville.
“I am very happy to see the Curry School forge this relationship with Clark Elementary,” said Gov. Warner. “Everyone benefits when our institutions of higher learning partner with K-12 schools to support our students, teachers and parents.”
The focus of the Clark-Curry partnership will be Clark’s three-year improvement plan, developed by principal Arthur Stow and his staff after Clark failed to meet federal adequate yearly progress standards in the area of English.
The goal of the plan is to ensure that at least 80 percent of all third- and fourth-grade students at Clark, which comprises preschool through fourth grades, pass the English Standards of Learning Test by the end of the 2006-2007 school year.
The specifics of the Clark-Curry partnership are still being formulated, but in general, the partnership will involve three academic areas: literacy training grounded in scientifically based reading strategies, differentiated instruction, and teaching in and through the arts. The partnership also will promote cultural competence and community relationships in recognition of the essential role that family and neighborhood play in a child’s ability to learn and achieve.
“During public dialogue over the current Chartered Universities initiative, Gov. Warner challenged Virginia colleges and universities to form partnerships with schools that currently do not meet state standards in order to help them achieve those standards in the future,” said U.Va. provost Gene Block. “The Clark-Curry partnership is U.Va.’s response to that specific challenge; it is also very much in keeping with our long history of public service and outreach to Virginia educators and their pupils.”
“We at Curry take outreach and public service seriously in our programs with local schools,” said David W. Breneman, dean of the Curry School.
Clark’s principal supports that claim: “Over the past several years, Clark School has partnered with U.Va. for numerous initiatives,” Stow said. “From these experiences, our students and faculty have benefited greatly.”
Through this latest venture, Stow added, “The staff at Clark School stands ready to form an even stronger alliance with the Curry School that will enhance the education of each child. The Clark-Curry partnership will provide our staff and community with the resources necessary to successfully implement our school’s three-year improvement plan and additional initiatives that have been sought after for several years.”
“We’re extremely delighted to work further with Clark Elementary School to help them succeed in their mission of pursuing excellence,” Breneman said.
Beyond the Clark-Curry partnership, U.Va. is presently engaged in specific projects with more than 30 school divisions in Virginia. Within the Charlottesville City and Albemarle County school divisions, U.Va. faculty and K-12 school personnel are working together in programs for new teachers, for students at risk for academic failure, and in targeted areas, such as instructional technology, literacy improvement and the prevention of school violence. In addition, U.Va. provides professional development for K-12 teachers and administrators that is responsive to the needs of school districts.
More recently, Curry’s partnerships have focused explicitly on working with administrators and teachers to improve the academic performance of pupils in low-performing schools. One of the most visible of these is Gov. Warner’s own initiative with Microsoft Corp. to support the Virginia School Turnaround Specialist Program for principals.