RETC Brings Tech Savvy to Underperforming Bronx Middle SchoolsContact: Gina Vergel
Fordham University’s RETC—Center for Professional Development is helping to bring 30 Bronx middle schools up to speed in 21st century instructional technology.
The RETC will provide professional development services in IT to public and non-public school personnel as part of a two-year, $1 million federal grant.
The grant was awarded to the New York City Department of Education’s Bronx Office of Instructional Technology (OIT), which had partnered with the RETC and National Staff Development Council.
"In collaboration with OIT, the RETC is going to train assistant principals, teachers and school technology coordinators how to improve instruction through the integration of technology," said RETC director Steven D’Agustino, Ph.D. "If classes are more integrated technologically, students will be more engaged in their learning, which will take place in a more project-based way and be more effective."
The first training session, attended by nearly 60 teachers, administrators and technology coordinators, occurred May 9 on Fordham’s Rose Hill campus. Over the next two years, professional developers from the RETC and OIT will make site visits to the schools as part of the program, titled Transforming Leadership into 21st Century Schools: Inclusive, Innovative and Interdisciplinary (I3).
While one benefit of the grant program is that administrators and staff will receive Internet and Computing Core Certification, known as IC3, its success will be measured by whether the test scores of English language learners improve, said Crystal Lindsay, director of the Bronx OIT.
"The entire school building will be transformed into a 21st-century environment," Lindsay said. "Administrators and teachers will be empowered to teach using technology, but we must improve academic achievement."
The public and non-public schools participating in the program are those that have been deemed “in need of improvement” by the New York State Department of Education as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (Title IID), which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2001.
Lindsay, who began her teaching career in the Bronx 15 years ago, said many borough schools are lagging when it comes to technology. Her office and Fordham RETC have made efforts to change that, however.
A Title IID grant obtained by both offices about four years ago allowed for nearly 200 teachers and administrators from public and non–public schools to be trained in ways to make their schools more technology–ready, Lindsay said.
"With this new grant, again, the teams are thrilled and passionate that they have a place to share what they are learning," Lindsay said.
Teachers also will get other incentives, D’Agustino said.
"Each participant will get a laptop and an iTouch, a handheld device, and each school will get an LCD projector," D’Agustino said. "Also, the National Staff Development Council will train and certify the school teams so that they can train their colleagues so the project will have sustainability."
School administrators will learn what hardware and software to purchase for their schools as well as what professional development is relevant for their teachers.
"We’re very pleased because we’ve developed a great deal of expertise over the past four years working on these grants," D’Agustino said, crediting the research of former RETC director Kathy King, Ph.D., now professor of adult education, for providing the theoretical framework that played a large part in obtaining the grant.
Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to approximately 14,700 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a commuter campus in Westchester, and the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y.