Low Plaza

The School at Columbia University's Opening Day Opens a New World to Students

By Elizabeth Golden

The School at Columbia University is located at 110th Street and Broadway

Last week, The School at Columbia University opened its doors at Broadway and 110th Street to approximately 200 students. The school's inaugural kindergarten through fourth grade classes comprise children of University faculty and neighborhood families.

"I am very pleased that we have accomplished our goal to create an exemplary school in which neighborhood and faculty children participate together in an innovative learning experience -- one that enhances their personal and academic growth, and encourages the practice of good citizenship," said President Lee C. Bollinger. "These students will benefit not only from having great teachers in a unique community environment but also from the resources and facilities at Columbia University."

Children attending The School at Columbia University will be immersed in an integrated curriculum that not only stresses academic excellence but also personal and moral development. Capitalizing on the enormous resources of the University, each teacher at The School at Columbia University will partner with a faculty member from the University in a collaborative effort to bridge the practitioner and academic worlds.

"The School at Columbia University's integrated curriculum makes compelling questions and themes the center of the students' learning. Skills and academic competencies, such as literacy, numeracy and wellness are integrated into their educational experiences, rather than presented as separate disciplines without relevance to one another," said Luyen Chou, associate head of The School at Columbia University and executive director for the Center for Integrated Learning and Teaching. "At the same time, The School's innovative curriculum database tool helps to keep the curriculum accountable to benchmark objectives and standards. We believe The School's unique approach to curriculum will help us to educate the whole child in a world of complex interconnectedness, while maintaining a high standard of academic excellence."

To help realize its vision, The School at Columbia University engaged in an unusual and wide recruitment effort to bring on board well-qualified, motivated, knowledgeable, and creative faculty and staff. To ensure that the educators had a diverse background and the necessary technological and pedagogical skills, all applications were submitted through an online recruitment tool.

The neighborhood children enrolled in the inaugural class were chosen by lottery. At the beginning of October, The School at Columbia University will host presentations to encourage community families to participate in the lottery for next years' classes. For more information about the times and locations of these meetings, visit the school's Web site, listed below.

Teachers utilize a variety of University resources, including Barnard College, Teachers College's Institute for Learning Technologies and the Center for New Media Technology and Learning (CNMTL) and associated institutions and organizations. At the hub of activity is The Center for Integrated Learning and Teaching (CILT). CILT provides teachers and educators with a dynamic, supportive environment rich with opportunities to theorize, develop, implement and disseminate integrated curricula and allied pedagogies for use in K-8 schools.

Students enjoy their first day at their new school.

Educational technologies, new media, and digital communications in learning are included in lessons to help bring a global perspective into the classroom.

The School at Columbia University places a big emphasis on meeting the nutritional needs of its students. To this effect, among other responsibilities, parents are required to pack lunches for their children. There also is a cafe at the school offering free nutritious snacks, serving as a gathering spot for parents, teachers and students throughout the day.

Co-curricular programming will be available to all students and after-school programs will be open to the wider community.

The School at Columbia University plans to add 5th and 6th grades in 2004, 7th grade in 2005, and 8th grade in 2006, when full enrollment will be 650 students.

"The School at Columbia University has already proven to be a powerful strategy for the recruitment and retention of top academics. In addition, we will serve as a research and development laboratory focusing on the production of curricular materials and new forms of teaching methodologies aimed at improving public and private schools throughout the country. This may be the greatest pre-collegiate educational initiative by any major university in the country," said Gardner Dunnan, head of The School at Columbia University and Assistant Provost for Special Projects.

Published: Oct 02, 2003
Last modified: Oct 01, 2003

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