NHPS gets $250,000 Nellie Mae Grant for Teacher Evaluation

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Christopher Hoffman, New Haven Public Schools
Nick Lorenzen, Nellie Mae Education Foundation
New Haven School District Receives $250,000 to
Support Innovative Professional Development
Renewable grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation aimed at building a culture of collaboration among professionals in urban districts
New Haven, CT– As part of its efforts to reshape public education in New England and provide more learners with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in college work and life, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF) has awarded the New Haven Public Schools a grant of $250,000 to support the professional development of teachers, administrators and district leaders.
The grant is one of three made to urban Connecticut school districts as part of NMEF’s Building a Collaborative Culture grant program. The Danbury and Norwalk school districts have also received $250,000 grants under the program. The Building a Collaborative Culture program is intended to provide urban districts with the high-quality professional development necessary to create environments where student-centered approaches can succeed.
New Haven representatives and NMEF recognize professional development is critical to successfully implementing learning approaches that place students at the center of the educational experience and provide the deeper learning experiences that prepare students for college and careers. NMEF believes student-centered approaches can help create more adaptive learning engagements that help students master the academic knowledge, critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills they need to thrive beyond high school.
New Haven will use the grant to support its groundbreaking principal and teacher evaluation systems, which has been praised as a national model by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the New York Times editorial page. The funds will also help the district train teachers to develop and implement a new portfolio requirement for high school students.  
The one-year grant has the potential to be renewable for two additional years.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo said, “I thank Nellie Mae for this generous grant. The New Haven Public Schools will use the funds to enhance our nationally recognized teacher evaluation system and train teachers to implement the new high school portfolio requirement. Strengthening teacher performance is at the core of the district’s School Change reforms, which seek to raise test scores, reduce the dropout rate and prepare all students for college. Teachers must improve for students to improve, which this grant will help happen.”
“If we want to truly prepare students for the future, then these professional, collaborative cultures of learning are crucial,” said Mary Sylvia Harrison, Vice President of Programs for the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. “We believe these grants will provide educators with the support they need and deserve in order to create more innovative, effective, and equitable educational experiences for all students.” 
Danbury, New Haven and Norwalk were selected to receive grants based in part on how well their district improvement and professional development plans aligned with NMEF’s principles of student-centered approaches to learning.
The three districts were selected from a group of urban New England districts that were invited to apply based on factors that include size, concentration of students receiving free and reduced lunch, and concentration of English language learners.
The Building a Collaborative Culture program is component of NMEF’s larger, District Level Systems Change initiative.
The Nellie Mae Education Foundation is the largest charitable organization in New England that focuses exclusively on education. The Foundation supports the promotion and integration of student-centered approaches to learning at the middle and high school levels across New England. To elevate student-centered approaches, the Foundation utilizes a three-part strategy that focuses on: developing and enhancing models of practice; reshaping education policies; and increasing public understanding and demand for high quality educational experiences. The Foundation’s new initiative areas are: District Level Systems Change; State Level Systems Change; Research and Development; and Public Understanding.  Since 1998, the Foundation has distributed over $123 million in grants. For more information, visit www.nmefdn.org