American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Strengthening Humanities Education in New Small Schools

Published March 24, 2011

For the last few years, ASHP/CML has participated in a national education reform initiative focusing on improving student achievement in new small schools. Making Connections program has worked with new small public secondary schools in the Bronx to develop rigorous professional development models to enrich interdisciplinary humanities education. The program seeks to address some of the challenges facing new small schools such as sustaining effective learning communities, particularly with educators new to teaching.

Bronx New Small Schools teachers
Bronx New Small Schools teachers showcase activity examining race in U.S. history: (left to right, standing) John Murren (HS for Teaching and the Professions), Donald Byrd (School for Community Based Learning), and Eftyhia Mihalitsanos (HS for Teaching and the Professions). Seated: (rear to camera) Alberta Arnold (LaGuardia Community College Faculty Mentor) and Monty Everett (School for Community Based Learning).

Making Connections’ new Bronx small schools include New Explorers High School, Community School for Social Justice, Fannie Lou Hamer High School, Peace and Diversity High School, School for Community Research and Learning, School for Excellence, and High School for Teaching and the Professions. More than twenty-five teachers have received sustained professional development from ASHP/CML education staffers and CUNY faculty mentors via year-long training seminars that feature American history curriculum resources (documentaries, lesson plans, textbooks, study guides) and multimedia technology instruction. Matching content and direct access to CUNY faculty mentors, the program has garnered the praise of participants: My mentor, one social studies teacher reported, “was a joy to work with. I gained encouragement and the support [I] needed. . . [H]er English background was a source for strategy ideas I’d never considered before. Her personal background is one my students can appreciate and relate to as well.”

Program content covers subjects that range from the American Revolution to the Great Migration, and teaching topics such as multicultural education, using primary sources, and classroom management. Seminar locations have included the Museum of Television and Radio and the New York Public Library. When asked about ASHP/CML’s impact on student achievement, teachers have remarked on the program’s contribution to improving their students’ Regents examination scores.

Making Connections is funded by CUNY’s Office of Academic Affairs, the New York Community Trust, and the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation. For more information on the program: /making-connections

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