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Chuck Carney
IU School of Education
ccarney@indiana.edu
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Last modified: Friday, July 20, 2007

Indianapolis Public Schools and IU School of Ed join forces

Collaborative efforts formalized, new position created

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 20, 2007

IU School of Education Dean Gerardo Gonzalez

Print-Quality Photo

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana University School of Education and Indianapolis Public Schools have formed a new partnership that aims to raise high school graduation rates, better prepare students for college, and enhance their ability to succeed in postsecondary education or the workforce.

The IPS partnership is a product of the School of Education's Pathways Initiative. IU faculty and staff are partnering with public high schools and middle schools in Marion, Lake and St. Joseph counties. IPS superintendent Eugene White, along with Catherine Brown, director of the Center for Research and P-16 Collaboration at the School of Education, have signed a memorandum of understanding to clearly define responsibilities and expectations for the partnership, which builds on ongoing collaborative efforts.

"When the idea for a joint position was suggested by IPS, we jumped at the opportunity," said Gerardo M. Gonzalez, university dean of the IU School of Education. "It would bring operational capabilities to our Pathways partnership that we couldn't do on our own."

"IPS recognizes the importance of K-12 /higher education partnerships to ensure greater higher education access and achievement for our students," said Jane Kendrick, IPS assistant superintendent for high school education. "We believe the Pathways collaborative with Indiana University will result in a significant increase in the number of IPS students attending and completing college."

To enhance the partnership, IPS and the School of Education have created a jointly-funded position -- a "Pathways Coordinator" -- to help facilitate collaborative activities between the two organizations. Deb Leser, a former academic dean at Manual High School in Indianapolis, now a Ph.D. candidate in education leadership at the IU School of Education, will be the first to fill this role.

"Deb has a successful track record," Kendrick said. "Her experiences and her commitment to educational equity will open doors for our students and provide IU and IPS with strong leadership in our efforts."

Leser will spend much of her time working at both Manual and Arsenal Tech high schools as well as coordinating efforts with faculty at IUPUI and IUB.

"The coordinator will facilitate on-the-ground relationships among IU and IPS faculty and staff to ensure good communication between the campuses," said Catherine Gray, associate director of the Center for Research and P-16 Collaboration. "One big piece of her job is literally being a translator, because the culture of the university is very different than the culture of a school corporation. We operate on different calendars, we operate on different days, we have different kinds of expectations."

Gray said among Leser's first tasks is mapping the various initiatives already in place between IU and IPS. She'll examine those partnerships to determine better ways for utilizing university resources and discovering new partnership possibilities.

"We've got to build on the work that's already going on," Gonzalez said. "But the goal is to build very substantive and sustainable partnerships. That will include professional development for teachers, joint research between the university and the schools, summer camps for students, special scholarships and other activities leading to increased student achievement."

Daily communication will be key, Gray said, so that university faculty can more easily conduct research in the schools and the schools can easily access IU resources.

The School of Education plans to use the partnership with IPS as a model for future partnerships in the two other Pathways schools corporations in St. Joseph and Lake Counties. The Center for P-16 Research and Collaboration is actively working with school teachers and administrators in South Bend and Gary to build such partnerships there.

The following mp3 audio soundbites are available for download on the School of Education Web site at http://education.indiana.edu/audio.html.

Gonzalez says the idea for the new position made a lot of sense:
"When the idea for a joint position was suggested -- really by IPS -- we jumped at the opportunity, because it would bring operational capabilities to our Pathways partnership that we couldn't do on our own or without having someone that can be closely monitoring progress, suggesting ideas, connecting back to the teachers. And the idea of a joint position is, I think an ideal response to what is always a very challenging thing to keep these partnerships working."

Gonzalez says he hopes there will eventually be Pathways Coordinators in Gary and South Bend:
"We hope that as these partnerships evolve, that we would be able to get grants and get other funders that would help provide the funding necessary to build sustainability. But because IPS is such a large program, and we are already doing so much with IPS, we wanted to make our own initial investment to create the model and then to look for ways to sustain and build capacity in all the areas where we'll have Pathways schools."

Gonzalez says the new position will help IU add to collaboration already happening with IPS:
"Ultimately the goal is to better prepare students, enhance student achievement by working together, increase the graduation rates, and get more of those students to participate in and succeed in college. But we've got to build on the work that's already going on. And communicating with each other and building on each other's work and strength is the way we hope to do that."

Gray says the new position is an important liaison:
"Both sides have an investment in it, in this position really being accountable to both institutions and being aware of how important it is to keep the relationships open and the communications lines open."

One of the roles the Pathways Coordinator will play, Gray says, is making sure everyone's speaking the same language:
"One big piece of her job is literally a translator, because the culture of the university is very different than the culture of a school corporation. We operate on different calendars, we operate on different days, different kinds of expectations, our workloads are really different, and often it's just really hard for university faculty to understand that, and then for public school faculty to understand how we operate."