St. John’s University and nearby Middle School 216, the George J. Ryan Junior High School, have entered into what education officials are saying is the first partnership between a private university and a public school in the city of New York.
The program will be headed by the University’s School of Education. The students enrolled in the program will benefit greatly from the college-level guidance as well as the teachers and facilities available to them.
The program will be “creating a total program that should move [MS 216 students] to become top-achievers across the city,” St. John’s School of Education Dean Jerrold Ross said in the Times Ledger.
The program will focus on a complete educational restructuring. It will move MS 216 from one large middle school to three smaller, themed “learning communities.” The goal of the program is to encourage more flexible scheduling that will allow the middle school to provide a more transitional experience for the students. The hope is that, with the support of the University, MS 216 will be able to better prepare elementary school students to successfully enter high school.
“Nothing is more vexing than middle schools across the nation these days,” Ross said at a press conference in June. “It’s not only a difficult academic transformation into high school for students but an emotional and physical one into adults as well.”
Members of the MS 216 community are especially looking forward to the program and see many possibilities presented through the partnership. “We want to transform a good school into a great school,” said Reginald Landeau, principal of MS 216 in the Times Ledger.
There are many components to the program. It will introduce the use of technology as a way to support instruction, create Honors courses for the gifted and talented students, and set up a system of school/university inter-visitations with the hope of inspiring children to want to enroll in college after the completion of high school.
“I have repeatedly urged our schools of education to become more involved in the administration of our public schools,” said New York Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. “This partnership is an excellent way to do just that and I thank Dean Ross and his team for their leadership and commitment.”
“We are excited to embark on this first-of-its kind partnership,” said Ross. “St. John’s was founded to serve the populations of New York City that needed our help. We see this historic partnership as an extension of that Mission. We look forward to joining in the Chancellor’s already successful efforts at introducing new approaches to help children attain higher standards.”