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05/02/95

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Summer School for 7th, 8th graders, student teachers to be offered

STANFORD -- The Stanford Summer Teaching School will open its doors this summer for the second time to more than 300 seventh and eighth graders from school districts all over the Peninsula.

The summer school brings together student teachers from the Stanford University School of Education with experienced master teachers in a five-week training program. The Stanford students and master teachers will work together to provide current pupils from area schools with basic skills through intensive coursework in an enriching classroom format. Located at the Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto, the summer school will run from Tuesday, June 27, to Friday, July 28. Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will include a lunch break.

Approximately four student teachers will be paired with each master teacher in a classroom with a student-adult ratio of no more than five to one. The children, many of whom are accustomed to a ratio of one teacher to 30 students in large, traditional classes, can benefit from this unique interaction. For student teachers, it is a chance to learn from their peers and from seasoned professionals; for master teachers, it is an opportunity to meet other educators and offer lively, often experimental, courses.

"We have a school that has made an enormous difference in the quality of the teacher ed program and the quality of the student teachers," said Beverly Carter, director of the Stanford Teacher Education Program at the Graduate School of Education.

Students either will be sponsored by their school districts (according to varying criteria of who might most benefit from the program) or can attend on a tuition basis through Stanford University ($200 for five weeks of instruction). General sponsorship of the program is through area districts, Stanford University and donations from community leaders. The San Mateo County Office of Education is the fiscal agent and Palo Alto Unified is providing the facilities. Other participating districts include Las Lomitas, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Milpitas Unified, Palo Alto Unified, Portola Valley and San Jose Unified.

Last year's pilot program meant a more positive but also more demanding experience for many pupils, teachers said.

"Many of their experiences with school had been negative, and they brought that view with them to the classroom," said Bob Jordan, an English teacher in San Jose and one of last year's master teachers. "But they came out of this program seeing that their previous experience was not the sum total of all that could happen in school."

"We got high marks from the kids for listening to them and caring about them," said Stephanie Rico, another master teacher who participated in the program last year.

For student teachers, the program was a unique way to gain practical experience in a supportive environment. "It helped me learn about my peers in the program and introduced me to some important master teachers," said Josh Edelman, a student teacher from last summer. "It improved my ability to understand diversity -- from the range of ability levels to cultural and ethnic issues."

"The student teachers at the summer school got a sophisticated understanding of teaching based on a very concrete experience," Jordan said. "They had time to debrief common experiences, sharpen their skills by observing each other and see the values and backgrounds that the pupils bring to a classroom."

The master teachers, all credentialed and selected for their outstanding teaching and creative approaches, set the tone for the school -- beginning with designing their own courses. Much of the coursework includes interdisciplinary approaches and emphasizes critical thinking. For example, in a computer-based mathematics course titled "Antarctica" offered last year and again this year, students worked in teams as architects designing a science station meant to house four scientists for two years. The design process required mastery of such concepts as scale, functions, and dependent variables.

Organizers say they hope that the Summer Teaching School will prove to be a model of trust and collaboration in the overcoming of boundaries -- between school districts, sources of funding and administration, students and teachers, and socio- economic backgrounds.

"To blend all of these backgrounds and experiences into one rejuvenates a lot of what gets taken for granted in a classroom," said Felton Owens, the principal for the Summer School in 1994 and again this summer. "We'll do an even better job this year."

Enrollment is limited. For more information and to order a catalog, contact James Shabazz, Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), CERAS Building 309, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-3084; (415)723-4891.

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