An Institute in High Gear: Research and Service, with Local and Global Reach

The Institute for Educational Initiatives, with its several units dedicated to research and action in service to America’s children and schools, is capturing lots of attention recently. The synergistic and interdisciplinary achievements of individual scholars and the aspirations of students and families around the nation and locally are all playing a part in the zeal for educational excellence among Institute faculty fellows.

Fighting for Equal Education: Nicole McNeil, the Institute, and ACE

Especially for fans of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish football,  one high-profile mention of the Institute’s research work—and its synergies with the Alliance for Catholic Education benefiting disadvantaged students in under-resourced schools, was the NBC TV spot, “Fighting for Equal Education.” This story of IEI fellow Nicole McNeil’s research on early math education was aired on TV just as the Notre Dame “Fighting for Our Children’s Future” National Bus Tour was beginning its visits to Catholic schools in 50 cities across the nation, promoting the cause of educational excellence for children from all backgrounds.

CREO Research on Teacher Evaluations and a Growing AERA Role

Mark Berends, the distinguished sociologist who directs Notre Dame’s Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO) has received the prestigious title of AERA Fellow by the American Educational Research Asssociation

Meanwhile, a research term led by CREO has produced a new study adding insights to the use of student-learning data in teacher evaluation.

Notre Dame Center for STEM Education

This new center within the Institute for Educational Initiatives, directed by Matt Kloser, has received a grant from the Spencer Foundation. The grant will allow the Center to study how indicators of student learning can help middle school science teachers improve their pedagogical practices. This exciting news has drawn the attention of the daily news summary from the online STEM Connectior service.

Another once of the Center’s activities has been working with dioceses to help Catholic schools take a more focused approach to science and math education, and this initiative already has received news coverage in the Diocese of Palm Beach.

Stay tuned for the Center for STEM Education to be continuing and expanding its collaborations with academicians and education practitioners locally and around the country. They are co-sponsoring a STEM Forum at Notre Dame on March 1.

Teaching Exceptional Children

James Frabutt, a respected education researcher and faculty member in ACE’s Remick Leadership Program, is director of the ACE inclusionary skills program for teachers, called Teaching Exceptional Children (TEC). This month, he was a guest speaker at the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) Teaching Exceptional Learners Conference.  His expertise in the field of embodying holistic and inclusionary attentiveness in Catholic education is reflected in his recently published book, Beyond Academics: Supporting the Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Health of Students in Catholic Schools.

Frabutt has also co-authored numerous books and journal articles, and Education Week recently noted his piece in the journal Catholic Education that constitutes the first national map of Catholic pre-K program.

He has also taken on leadership of the University of Notre Dame’s academic-community engagement initiative. As director of this initiative, Frabutt is facilitating and promoting the connection between Notre Dame faculty research projects and community, social, economic, and cultural development among off-campus individuals and groups.

Engaging Youth, Engaging Neighborhoods

One such faculty-community connection involving Institute for Educational Initiatives fellows and others who care deeply about children and learning is the Engaging Youth, Engaging Neighborhoods initiative. Through cooperation with leaders of community engagement working through Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, faculty members are able to achieve what Frabutt calls a “multiplier effect” where research into the successes for young South Bend residents can spread the word and help make similar initiatives possible around the country.

Three Notre Dame educators became particularly involved: Maria McKenna, senior associate director of the Education, Schooling, and Society (ESS) academic minor housed within the Institute for Educational Initiatives; Stuart Greene, the founding director of the ESS who teaches in the departments of Africana Studies and English; and Kevin Burke, assistant professional specialist with the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). ACE’s many activities are housed within the Institute.

Brazilian Teachers, Notre Dame, and South Bend Schools

A unique and multi-faceted connection between Notre Dame faculty and the South Bend community has reached deeply into local education through teaching partnerships in local public school classrooms, even as it has reached internationally to help Brazilian educators improve their skills in teaching English as a New Language. This winter, the Institute for Educational Initiatives has hosted 30 teachers from Brazil, advancing their pedagogical skills through intensive workshops, wide-ranging experiences of American culture, and direct contact with South Bend teachers and students.

One of the teachers from Brazil was interviewed on a local PBS TV program in early February, along with the ACE graduate who was serving as a “language coach” assisting in her adjustment to an array of United States cultural experiences—not to mention everyone’s adjustment to recent winter weather experiences.

AP-TIP IN Reaches Out to Public High School Students Across Indiana

High school students and their teachers are receiving a powerful boost in their aspirations for college and career success in the STEM disciplines through the Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program for Indiana (AP-TIP IN), administered for a growing number of Indiana public schools through the Institute for Educational Initiatives.

The latest example of success in this statewide campaign representing Notre Dame’s commitment to the future of schools and education occurred on Saturday, Jan. 25, when about 700 high school students converged on an Indianapolis-area high school to deepen their preparation for their College Board Advanced Placement ® courses and tests in English, Science, and Mathematics, with leadership from participating local high school teachers and the AP-TIP IN administrative team at the Institute.

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