Monroe forging ambitious literacy partnership with SUNY Geneseo

Monroe forging ambitious literacy partnership with SUNY Geneseo

This article originally appeared in the Democrat and Chronicle.

Due to a D & C server change the photos are no longer available.

• January 10, 2014

By now it is almost axiomatic that strong working relationships between universities and public schools are essential in our ever expanding information age economy.

This year, Monroe High School is taking secondary/higher ed collaboration—putting policy into practice—to new levels.  As part of its Phase Two Transformation plan, Monroe is implementing a comprehensive partnership with SUNY Geneseo that will bring to campus Geneseo faculty trained in literacy and bilingual studies to work directly with Monroe teachers.  In addition, Monroe will be offering Geneseo undergraduate education majors an unprecedented opportunity to work for an entire year as apprentice teachers with a stipend.

The initiative emerged two years ago when Monroe Principal Armando Ramirez and RCSD District Chief Brenda Pacheco-Rivera determined that Monroe—which has the highest percentage of Spanish speaking students and parents in the District—needed a laser like focus on literacy education for its bilingual community.  Aided by a School Improvement Grant, Ramirez and Pacheco-Rivera reached out to SUNY Geneseo—where they were warmly received—to build this win-win partnership.  In describing the ambitious plan, Ramirez uses a phrase of which he is fond:  “Go big or go home.”

First, students win.  As Monroe faculty gain increased expertise in bilingual education, students are sure to benefit.  Monroe teachers win by both becoming more effective in the classroom and by actually earning credit towards advanced certifications and degree. Geneseo faculty wins by having the opportunity to meld theory with practice.  Geneseo wins by establishing its presence—one previously lacking—firmly within a Rochester urban school.

Finally, Geneseo undergraduates training to be teachers win.  As a former student teacher, I would have loved the opportunity for a year-long paid apprenticeship as opposed to the conventional format of two seven week (unpaid) placements.  When the Geneseo students complete the program, I think there is a strong chance they will want to commit to the District for their career.

Recently, Superintendent Vargas has called for local colleges and universities to help manage schools.  I don’t know how far his plan will go, but nonetheless it has sparked new discussion about secondary and higher ed collaboration.  As the Monroe/Geneseo partnership successfully moves forward, it will undoubtedly become part of that conversation.

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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