But aside from a few joint programs and four annual scholarships, the Stevens Institute of Technology, overlooking the Hoboken waterfront, hadn't been too involved in the city's six public schools.
However, since then, the Hoboken-Stevens Partnership for Public Education (HSPPE) has worked to create new websites, professional development seminars, and new curricula. The partnership celebrated its third anniversary Wednesday with a luncheon for officials and teachers.
The joint effort was the brainchild of Mayor David Roberts, Superintendent of Schools Patrick Gagliardi, and Stevens President Harold Raveche. Raveche said last week that the use of technology in the classroom has become a necessity in today's learning environment. "Teachers who use instructional technology in the classroom get their students more excited about learning about math and science," said Raveche Wednesday. "Mayor Roberts came to us three years ago and was very insistent that we increase the intensity of Stevens' participation in the Hoboken school district."
In its infancy, the HSPPE proposed establishing a new state-of-the-art technologically advanced "lab school" for the Hoboken community, to be built on the waterfront. But for a number of reasons, one of which was the cost to buy the prime piece of real estate, the plans for lab school were shelved.
However, the district is projecting a number of new schools in the next five to 10 years with over $100 million in state funding, and Stevens will be an active partner in helping to integrate new technology into those buildings.
But until new construction starts, the partnership hasn't been resting on its laurels. Stevens' current participation is led by Stevens' Center for Innovation in Engineering (CIESE), which was established in 1988 to help bring the school's technology experience to the k-12 sector. Working collaboratively with public schools and school districts in concert with a variety of partners such at AT&T and the New Jersey Department of Education, CIESE has helped more than 700 schools in New Jersey make better use of technology.
Wednesday, CIESE Director Beth McGrath provided an overview of joint programs, which include the Hoboken Summer Institute for teacher training and the Star-W program, whose goal is to integrate technology into the grades three through five curriculum combined with instruction that leads to increased student performance in language arts and literacy.
Hoboken Summer Institute
For the past three summers, Stevens has picked up the cost of a two-week long workshop in the summer where professors from the school teach classes in how to best use technology and the Internet in the classroom. After the class is finished, during the regular school year, Stevens' training professionals make follow-up classroom visits to the former institute participants, helping them make progress. At Wednesday's luncheon, Hoboken High School Teacher Fiona Duncanson showed the attendees the class website she created last year. The website contained the class syllabus, homework assignments, a class calendar, informational resources such as writing and literary terms, and even a message board so that students can continue the class discussion after school hours.
"Before the Summer Institute, I only had minimal knowledge about how to make a website," said Duncanson, "but this was one of the best professional development classes that I've taken."
Star-W Another joint project between the school district and Stevens is the state-funded, Star-W (Students Using Technology to Achieve Reading/Writing) program, which uses Web-based projects to support New Jersey's language arts literacy curriculum standards. The standards are associated with the federal "No Child Left Behind" legislation to improve literacy in America.
Stevens and the school district worked together to apply for the New Jersey Department of Education grant and to implement the program last and this year.
The Star-W program at Wallace Primary School uses "Savvy Cyber Teacher" approaches developed at Stevens to teach teachers how to incorporate interactive Internet lessons into their classrooms. These approaches were developed by CIESE, which has conducted teacher training for more than 100 teachers in the Hoboken School District over the last 16 years.
Last year's Star-W program involved eight teachers in the third and fourth grades at Wallace Primary School. Next year, the program will expand to include Wallace's fifth grade.
New program McGrath also unveiled a community program designed to engage middle school students called The First Day of School, which will launch with the participation of sixth grade students from the Brandt and Demarest middle schools, in partnership with Stevens fraternities Alpha Phi Omega, Tau Beta Pi, Chi Alpha Epsilon, and the Stevens Technical Enrichment Program (STEP).
According to officials, the program will introduce sixth-graders to a day in the life of a student at Stevens, giving them the first-hand experience of education at a science and technology university.
IB in the middle schools
Also on Wednesday, Joyce Baron, a director for CIESE, whose salary is split by Stevens and the Hoboken school district, provided an overview of implementation of the International Baccalaureate Program in Hoboken's middle schools. The IB curriculum is as challenging and difficult as any curriculum in the country, and already has been used for many years for top achievers at Hoboken High School. The IB, founded in 1968, is a nonprofit educational foundation based in Geneva, Switzerland that grew out of international schools' efforts to establish a common curriculum and university-entry credentials. Now these concepts for the first time in Hoboken are being introduced on the middle school level, with Baron coordinating the training of middle school teachers. Tom Jennemann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.