Educators from Four American Cities Will Take Home Lessons from Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

Yale University and the city of New Haven will host educators from four cities across America who are seeking to duplicate in their own communities Yale’s 20-year-old model partnership with the New Haven public school system.

From July 5-16, the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute will hold its second “July Intensive Session.” The program is underwritten by a $2.5 million grant from the DeWitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund.

Educators from Pittsburgh, Houston, Albuquerque, and Santa Ana (Cal.) will attend workshops, lectures and seminars in order to plan and implement innovative curricula for their own students. Participants are faculty members and administrators from the five grant-receiving instititutions – Carnegie Mellon University/Chatham College; the University of California, Irvine; the University of California, Santa Cruz; the University of Houston; and the University of New Mexico – as well as teachers from the public schools in each city.

The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute was established in 1978 to improve teaching in schools in New Haven’s low-income communities, drawing on many of the rich resources the university has to offer. Studies have shown that over the past two decades the Institute’s professional development programs have increased teachers’ preparation in the subjects they teach, heightened expectations of their students, raised morale, increased the rate of teacher retention and enhanced student performance.

The Institute is based on the premise that “Teachers from Yale and New Haven are professional colleagues with strong common interest in teaching and learning about their subjects,” said the Institute’s founding director James R. Vivian. Each year, teachers poll their colleagues to determine topics for spring and summer seminars. The Institute then identifies Yale faculty members who are experts in the proposed topics to serve as seminar leaders. On admission to the program, teachers become Fellows of the Institute and members of the Yale community, with access to university facilities and resources. Fellows attend five-month seminars on the topic of their choice and pursue individual projects that culminate in the creation of curricular material.

About 80 teachers are currently participating in seven seminars on topics ranging from “American Political Thought” to “Contemporary Astronomy and Space Science.” Over the years, 435 teachers have become Institute Fellows, including approximately 35 percent of all current New Haven middle and high school teachers.

The four new Teachers Institutes growing out of the present grant-funded national effort will bring the New Haven approach to 86 schools enrolling 90,375 students, in school districts that enroll 391,800 students.

The new institutes aim to have a significant impact on school systems that serve students from low-income communities, but each is located in a city much larger than New Haven. Each, moreover, is a different kind of partnership and has determined its own scope, strategy, and goals.

The new institutes share with the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute the premise that teachers from universities and public schools are dedicated both to the subjects they teach and to effective communication with their students. As in New Haven, teachers at each site, in becoming fellows, also become members of a university community, with access to its facilities and resources. They will participate in long-term seminars on one of the topics that they have helped to determine and will write curriculum units that they will then use in their own classrooms and share with other teachers throughout their school system and, via the internet, with other teachers across the nation.

The four seminars slated for this summer’s July Intensive Session are: “Art and Identity in Mexico, from the Olmec to Modern Times,” directed by history of art professor Mary Miller; “Immigation and American Life,” by professor of political science Rogers M. Smith; “Human-Environment Relations,” by John Wargo, professor of political science and a noted authority on environmental issues; and “Writing from Several Cultures,” by Frederick W. Hilles, professor emeritus of English.

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Dorie Baker:, 203-432-1345