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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University August 16, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 42
K-12 Ed: Sharing Best Practices

Lea Ybarra, executive director of CTY, chairs the Johns Hopkins Council on K-12 Education, which advises university leadership and fosters collaborations.

Committee brings together JHU initiatives for parents, educators

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

In the field of youth education, Johns Hopkins annually conducts scores of diverse programs and initiatives, from after-school reading programs and principal mentoring to summer math and science camps and curriculum development.

In fact, the number of education offerings is so great, and growing, that staying on top of it all could be a full-time job. For the Johns Hopkins Council on K-12 Education, it is.

Originally called the Hopkins Education Forum, the committee was founded in 1999 to advise the university's leadership on the regional and national challenge of school reform and to foster collaboration among the leaders of the university's education-related projects.

This year, the committee changed its name to better describe what it does and to usher in a new era of visibility, both to the Johns Hopkins community and to the public.

As part of this new commitment to visibility, the Johns Hopkins Council on K-12 Education hosted in May a two-day Hopkins Education Summit and later this year plans to go live with an online K-12 database that will serve as a clearinghouse for information on all JHU's education initiatives.

Lea Ybarra, chair of the 14-member committee [see below] and executive director of the Center for Talented Youth, says that many people underestimate how involved Johns Hopkins is in the field of K-12 education.

"I think it's part of this committee's charge to get the word out that we are working on many educational initiatives in many, many areas in collaboration with many school districts," she says. "This is not marketing; it's informing people what we are doing so that they can avail themselves of the resources."

In addition to the programs offered by the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education, two of the most prominent and established Johns Hopkins education programs are the Center for Talented Youth and the Center for Social Organization of Schools. CTY, established in 1979, identifies and serves pre-collegiate students of high academic excellence, offering them challenging education opportunities; it also researches best practices for dealing with this population. Currently, CTY works with more than 10,000 schools and with students from throughout the United States and 70 other countries.

The Center for Social Organization of Schools was established in 1966 as an educational research and development center. CSOS's staff of sociologists, psychologists and educators conducts programmatic research to improve the education system, develop curricula and provide technical assistance to help schools use the center's research.

Other longtime education-related initiatives are the Johns Hopkins Tutorial Project, which for more than 40 years has worked to improve the reading and mathematical skills of Baltimore youth, and Barclay Tutorial, through which participants tutor students at the Barclay Elementary School, located near the Homewood campus.

More recent education efforts include the Baltimore Scholars program, which will provide full-tuition scholarships to graduates of Baltimore City public schools accepted into the university's undergraduate programs, and a new Baltimore City charter school, established by CSOS, which will welcome its first class this fall.

With so many active programs, Johns Hopkins needs a better way to inform parents, teachers and the community about their options, Ybarra says. The new online database, she says, will be a way of previewing what the university has to offer.

"There is just no one place to go right now. You have to go to the individual Web site of each program, if there even is one," she says. "With the new database, a person can come to one place, get an overview of all we offer and then ultimately connect with the one that is applicable to the child's or educator's situation."

The Council on K-12 Education meets four times a year, and its current membership includes representatives from the schools of Advanced International Studies, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, Professional Studies in Business and Education, and Public Health; the Kennedy Krieger Institute; CTY; and CSOS. At each of the meetings, the committee members discuss new initiatives that are under way and share success stories and effective methods and practices. The council also invites education and community leaders to discuss issues of mutual concern and ongoing partnerships and receives regular legislative updates regarding educational issues and funding.

"In a decentralized university such as Hopkins, the council serves as an important mechanism for the diverse units within the university that are working on K-12 initiatives to come together and to know what each other is doing. This enables us to collaborate in order to have a greater impact on the issues faced by schools both locally and nationally," Ybarra says.

The inaugural Hopkins Education Summit in May drew educators from more than 30 school districts, state legislators and representatives of education-related foundations. The forum, titled Helping Talent Soar: Identifying and Serving Gifted Students from All of America's Neighborhoods, was organized to pull together information and best practices on the education of high-achieving students from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education.

The next forum is scheduled for spring and will be titled A Quality Teacher in Every Classroom, and a Quality Leader in Every School. The event, to be held at the Homewood campus, will be co-sponsored by the Council on K-12 Education and the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education. Ralph Fessler, SPSBE's dean, will head the conference.

Ybarra says that the phrase "sharing best practices" perhaps best describes the mission of the Council on K-12 Education.

"Work and projects begun at Johns Hopkins can be found in hundreds of schools. It is important for us to show not only how much we are doing but also to let people know exactly what educational initiatives we have in place," she says. "Because of this, the council plans on being more visible and active than we have been in the past. We are asking ourselves, How can those who lead our education efforts collaborate better and share resources? And how does Johns Hopkins become a better resource for a parent or educator who wants to help a child?"

When completed, the database on Johns Hopkins education initiatives will be available at


Johns Hopkins Council on K-12 Education: 2003-2004 Committee Membership

Michael Bender, vice president of the Kennedy Krieger Institute

Ronald Fairchild, director of the Center for Summer Learning

Ralph Fessler, dean of the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education

Sara Groves, assistant professor and instructor in Professional Education Programs and Practices, School of Nursing

Jeffrey Jarosz, research assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Whiting School

John Latting, director of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for the Homewood schools

Phillip Leaf, professor of mental health, schools of Public Health and Medicine

James McPartland, director of the Center for Social Organization of Schools

Felisa Neuringer Klubes, director of public affairs at SAIS

Debora Perrone, director of foundation relations, Development and Alumni Relations

Marion Pines, senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies

Edgar Roulhac, vice provost for academic services

Bret Schreiber, State Relations, Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs

Lea Ybarra, executive director of the Center for Talented Youth


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