Charlotte Teachers Institute joins others at Yale
The Yale National Initiative announced on Friday, Oct. 23, that the Charlotte Teachers Institute (CTI) has become the newest member of its League of Teachers Institutes®. CTI, an innovative educational partnership among Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), Davidson College, and UNC Charlotte, joins established Teachers Institutes in New Haven, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Each Institute links one or two institutions of higher education with a school district that serves a significant proportion of students from low-income communities. Institutes focus on the academic preparation of school teachers and on their application in their own classrooms of what they study in the Institute.

“We are impressed,” Initiative Director James R. Vivian said, “by the enthusiasm for and commitment to CTI expressed by the teachers, faculty members and administrations of the three partner institutions. CTI promises to become precisely the kind of exemplary Teachers Institute that we hope to develop in each state.”

Vivian announced CTI’s admission into the League during the Initiative’s fifth Annual Conference, attended by more than 100 teachers, school district officials and higher education administrators from 11 participating cities and counties.

“CTI’s membership in the League,” Vivian said, “enriches our work nationally and can provide practical assistance to colleagues around the country.”

Each Teachers Institute offers seminars on subjects teachers request in the humanities and sciences. In the seminars, university or college faculty members contribute their knowledge of a subject, while the school teachers contribute their expertise in elementary and secondary school pedagogy, their understanding of the students they teach, and their grasp of what works in the classroom. Successful completion of a seminar requires that the teachers write a curriculum unit to be used in their own classroom and to be shared with others in the same school and other schools through both print and electronic publication.  

Jeff Joyce, a social studies teacher at Northwest School of the Arts, first learned about the Teachers Institute approach in 2005 when he participated in a national seminar at Yale University. Joyce has since helped lead the effort to implement the Institute model in Charlotte.

“This program began with three teachers traveling to Yale for an unparalleled professional development experience. Five years later, teachers, faculty and administrators have worked together to bring that same experience to Charlotte. I commend our higher education partners and the CMS leadership for recognizing the merit of the program and giving teachers an opportunity to build an Institute that serves their needs and treats them as professionals.”

CMS Superintendent Dr. Peter C. Gorman supports the Teachers Institute approach.

“This program works because it helps teachers extend their content knowledge, develop curriculum for their classrooms, and build leadership skills. Our teachers get what they need from this program, because they have an active role in the Institute’s decisions and topic choices.”

Currently 50 teachers participate in four CTI seminars, and the Institute plans to double its offerings in fall 2010. Seminars take place at Davidson College and UNC Charlotte. Participating teachers, called Fellows, are treated as members of each campus community with identification cards and access to campus facilities.

“There are many reasons for Davidson College to celebrate its involvement with CTI and with the Yale National Initiative,” stated Davidson College President Thomas W. Ross. “This program has the potential to improve education in this region. CTI is already bringing communities together. It rejuvenates teachers, who in turn will revitalize their classrooms. It engages public school teachers with the college and university faculty who work right down the road.”

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois added, “UNC Charlotte views the Charlotte Teachers Institute as a primary means by which to fulfill our commitment to forging pre-kindergarten through college partnerships and helping prepare today’s students to succeed in an evolving and diverse world. We are pleased to have a Yale National Initiative Teachers Institute in Charlotte.”

To learn more about the Charlotte Teachers Institute, contact CTI Director Molly Shaw at (704) 687-0078 or visit www.charlotteteachers.org.