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05/13/94

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Education to launch summer school for student teachers, area students

STANFORD -- Student teachers and faculty at Stanford University's School of Education will join with local master teachers to offer a six-week summer school program - the first of its kind in the nation in terms of size of the project and the amount of collaboration with area schools.

The 1994 Stanford Summer Teaching School, open to 540 middle and high school students from San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, will be sponsored by the School of Education's Stanford Educational Collaborative and the San Mateo Office of Education.

Also involved are Palo Alto Unified School District, Sequoia Union High School District, the Redwood City Elementary School District, Ravenswood Elementary School District, Milpitas Unified School District, the Los Altos School District and the San Jose Unified School District. Other districts are expected to join. The summer school, which will run four-hours-a-day from June 27 to Aug. 5, will be housed at the Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto.

According to Beverly Carter, director of the Stanford Educational Collaborative, "By bringing together the community's outstanding teachers and Stanford's teachers-in-training, everybody wins: students get top teachers, a high amount of adult interaction and lively classes; master teachers are exposed to alternative methods, diverse students and new colleagues; student teachers get mentorship, valuable teaching time and feedback.

"Some of these ideas have been tried on a limited basis in a few places - but this is the first time it's been done on this scale. There's a lot of interest across the country in this as a way of using summer school money for school improvement and teachers' professional development."

Felton Owens, one of four principals at San Jose's Independence High School - the largest high school in northern California with 3,600-4,000 students - will head the Stanford Summer Teaching School.

"It gives me an opportunity to view education through a different lens," said Owens, explaining why he became involved in the project. "Moreover, I love being on the ground floor of things." Owens added that he was inspired by the school's concept of bringing together "highly motivated educators to create a school for kids who really want to be there."

The students, most of whom will be this year's 7th- to 9th- graders and possibly older, will have good reason to "want to be there." The coursework is unusually provocative. Among the courses are:

  • Antarctica, a computer-based mathematics course that allows students to work in architectural design teams to prepare a bid and proposal for a science station that will house four scientists for two years.
  • From the Middle Ages to Modern Times will include among its areas of study the serfs compared to the homeless, the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine and the role of women today, family shields and updated 20th- century shields, and English common law compared to the U.S. constitution.
  • Stars of the Silver Screen is designed to strengthen basic writing skills by using contemporary films such as A River Runs Through It, School Ties and Breaking Away to study various kinds of writing.

The Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) will provide about four student teachers for each of the 18 classrooms, promising a high degree of adult-student interaction.

"We're not a demonstration school - this is a teaching school," said Carter. "We are not 'demonstrating' anything, per se; we're not running some new and snazzy experiment. We're simply offering a setting where people who are brand new to teaching can see gifted teachers in action and learn about what is possible in a diverse classroom."

"For example, sometimes new teachers [believe that] certain students can't learn. In these situations, they will be working instead with teachers who have devised innovative methods precisely for those students."

Felton added that, while most student teachers are sent to classrooms on many, geographically separated campuses, the Stanford summer school, centered at one campus, will offer intensive interaction.

"Usually, student teaching is not a controlled situation - but this program will have daily monitoring, with lots of hands-on experiences."

Organizers of the summer school stress the school's diversity. They've made it clear that the school will open its doors to disadvantaged students as well as relatively affluent students and "over-achievers."

Felton said that he was attracted to the project precisely because of the "heterogeneity" of the student mix. Although Independence High School students have 43 home languages and represent a wide mix of cultures, the Stanford summer school "will have diverse economic groups as well," he said, noting that it will include students from economically disparate East Palo Alto, San Jose, Milpitas and Palo Alto.

"The school will offer a wider range of students," said Owens. "And so it will give more of a perspective on how different groups can be blended together. This will be a melting pot - it will require a lot of team building."

According to Carter, "the classes are very diverse to match the kinds of classrooms in most local public schools."

All students will receive "enrichment-style courses, to enhance learning skills, in a program that provides concentrated, common experiences for teachers and kids," said Carter.

According to Felton, however, students and student teachers won't be the only ones learning - "It will be a learning experience for all of us.

"My role is to be the facilitator of all this and make sure it happens. I'm there to make sure all the pieces of the puzzle fit - they should fit, because all the pieces are there. It's fun to be a part of it."

Enrollment is limited. For more information, call Beverly Carter at (415) 723-1483.

-cp-

lid, pw, ban, EDU K-12 summer

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