WMU News

New lecture series lures national leaders in education

Jan. 9, 2004

KALAMAZOO--A unique blend of lectures and seminar classes at Western Michigan University will be launched this month, giving graduate students and others a chance to learn from some of the nation's top innovators in educating students placed at risk.

"More kids are being cast into the net," says Dr. Joseph Kretovics, WMU professor of educational leadership and director of the University's GEAR UP Learning Center, a program partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Increasingly, many students who are placed at risk are there because of race, poverty and ethnicity. As our demographics become more colorful and the number of children in poverty increases, more are placed. This series looks at how we rethink and redo schooling to help support children who have been historically placed at risk and how we can take them out of that situation."

Dr. Betty Despenza-Green, a national educational consultant and the director of national high school initiatives for the Small Schools Workshop in Chicago, kicks off the series Monday, Jan. 26, with a 7:30 p.m. lecture in Brown Auditorium of Schneider Hall.

The former senior associate of the National Center on Education and the Economy, who will present "Creating Small Learning Communities," helped transform Chicago Vocational High School, one of the largest most dysfunctional high schools in the country.

Each guest for the "Educating Students Placed at Risk" series is actively engaged in issues of school restructuring, professional development, community engagement or policy development as it relates to the education of children placed at risk.

Speakers will address graduate students and the general public in the series of free evening lectures offered every other Monday through April 5. All of the 7:30 p.m. Monday lectures will be held in Brown Auditorium.

On Tuesdays, the speakers will join professors from the WMU College of Education to further discuss their topics during the graduate seminar course Educational Leadership 600. The graduate course, which meets from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. each Tuesday in Room 3208 of Sangren Hall, is offered for three credit hours.

Public school educators, education students, policymakers and others involved in education also are encouraged to attend the lectures and to sign up for the seminar. Like the lecture series, the seminar sessions will examine a variety of issues related to educating children who have been placed at risk.

Following the Jan. 26 kickoff of the series, it will continue with the guest lecturers listed below.

James Beane, middle school innovator will present "Rich, Rigorous, and Relevant Curriculum: A Notion At Risk," Feb. 9 and 10. He is a professor at National-Louis University and a school reform "coach" at a middle school in Wisconsin.

Betty Despenza-Green, a former senior associate of the National Center on Education and the Economy, will present "Creating Small Learning Communities" Feb. 23 and 24. The national educational consultant and director of national high school initiatives helped transform Chicago Vocational High School, one of the largest most dysfunctional high schools in the country, into smaller learning communities.

William Ayers, school reform activist, will present "Between Heaven and Earth: The Challenge to Teach in Troubled Times" March 8 and 9. He is the Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

A. Wade Boykin, director of the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk and a Howard University psychology professor, will present March 22 and 23.

Mary Ann Houston, a veteran teacher and senior consultant at the Center for Teacher Formation, will present on April 5 and 6. She has worked closely with Parker Palmer on the Courage to Teach.

The free lectures are open to the public, and those interested in registering for the graduate seminar may do so online. For more information call Kretovics at (269) 387-6865.

Media contact: Gail Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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