The University of Rochester's Warner School of Education announces the creation of a new center supporting the success of K-12 urban schools in Rochester and beyond. Grounded in the University's partnership with East High School, the Center for Urban Education Success will bring together the Warner School's educational programs, community outreach, and research about urban schools and the University's work at East. The goal is to expand opportunities to apply quality research-based solutions at East and to leverage the knowledge gained at East to have greater reach in the revitalization of K-12 urban education regionally, nationally, and globally.
The launch of the new Center for Urban Education Success is made possible thanks to a generous commitment from Sandra Parker, former president/CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance, and John "Dutch" Summers of Jasco/Graywood Companies. The gift provides start-up funding for the Center, which will be housed at the Warner School of Education on River Campus.
"We are deeply grateful to Sandy and Dutch for their vision and support to help form the new Center for Urban Education Success," said Joel Seligman, University of Rochester president, CEO, and G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor. "Their passion for education and unwavering commitment to improving K-12 schools will benefit students in Rochester and establish a model for how an institution of higher education can bring its resources to bear to address society's challenges related to urban education."
"In order to make urban school improvement widespread and sustainable, it is critical that we look at where schools are succeeding and why," said Parker, a member of the University's Board of Trustees since 2013. "We are pleased to see this new Center become a reality because a community's success is deeply rooted in the success of its educational system."
According to Warner School Dean and Frederica Warner Professor Raffaella Borasi, the Center for Urban Education Success represents the next ambitious and much-needed milestone in the University's ongoing commitment to and efforts in supporting K-12 schools. "Not only will the new Center contribute to the success at East, but it will help to disseminate and share best practices and research for improving urban education more broadly," said Borasi. "Because of the vision and support of Sandy and Dutch, we are able to expand and improve programs, research, and practice that will lead to successful teaching and learning in urban schools—not just here in Rochester, but also in schools across the nation."
The new Center will be under the leadership of Stephen Uebbing as its executive director. Uebbing, a professor of educational leadership at the Warner School, was the chief force behind the development of the East Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) proposal. He currently serves as project director for East, overseeing the EPO partnership with the University, and he will be joined in the Center by faculty researchers and educational leaders. The Center will work closely with the leadership and teachers at East to capitalize on the partnership to build knowledge and improve practices that service urban students and schools.
An advisory council will play a critical role in the ongoing development of the Center. Constituted by distinguished leaders locally and nationally, the Center's advisory council will provide guidance, promote the work of the Center, and secure resources to help support the Center. Members of the advisory council will be announced in the summer of 2016.
While work on the East EPO application began more than two years ago, East is currently in its first year in partnership with the University. Changes at East include a longer school day, new enhanced curricula, double blocks of English and math, restorative practices as a means to handling disciplinary issues, small family groups that meet daily for academic and social support, and a support model that allows East teachers to spend part of the day working with students one-on-one or in small groups in areas where academic support is needed.
Building on the University's work at East, the new Center for Urban Education Success will leverage existing research and best practices to inform the transformation of East and will conduct research and evaluation on East and disseminate it so as to inform and improve urban education elsewhere. This transparency and access to the work that is happening at East and in urban school turnarounds more generally will be part of an effort to create a model for urban school improvement and a robust clearinghouse of research, practitioner guides, and other artifacts to support urban schools facing similar challenges.
For more information about and updates on the Center for Urban Education Success, visit www.warner.rochester.edu.