College Partnership Benefits Both Teachers and Students at Amundsen

Amundsen High School and Northeastern Illinois University started a partnership that will create a better learning environment, officials say.

Amundsen teachers are getting a helping hand from a local college—and students at both schools may be receiving a better education because of it.

Northeastern Illinois University’s College of Education is teaming up with the high school for teacher development and student activities.

The partnership, which started in September, is the first of its kind in the city, Amundsen Principal Anna Pavichevich said.

Most joint efforts between Chicago high schools and colleges center around a curriculum, like Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM).

“We approached it more organically,” coordinator Tim Duggan said. “We felt like we needed to get to know each other first.”

Duggan is a secondary education professor at NEIU and now spends half his time at Amundsen working with teachers through the partnership. He creates professional development workshops and observes in the classroom.

Pavichevich has noticed a change in her teachers under Duggan’s direction, mainly in how they think about lesson plans.

“It’s more about student learning rather than teachers teaching,” she said. “There’s more thought about planning lessons.”

The two say the strategy increases student engagement with a higher level of thinking.

And the program doesn’t just include teachers.

Amundsen students have been spending more time at the college and vice versa.

Duggan took his writing class to the high school and Amundsen science students have been learning in the college’s biology lab.

“Northeastern students can see a real high school environment, so that when they learn how to be English teachers, they can come in and learn about it in an authentic high school,” Pavichevich said. 

Three of Duggan’s former students are now teachers at Amundsen and almost 10 students are getting field experience through student teaching at the school.

The program started when NEIU College of Education Dean Maureen Gillette reached out to Pavichevich. Gillette had a few schools in mind and when she met with the principal to discuss the program’s goals, the two found they were completely compatible.

“They’re interested in turning out excellent teachers and we’re interested in supporting the development of excellence in our teachers,” Pavichevich said. 

The principal hopes the program will last for several years, and Duggan agrees. In the fall, he hopes to expand the professional development program to area elementary schools, like nearby Chappell.

“We want to deepen the relationship institution to institution, not institution to individual,” Duggan said.

The secondary education professor has been at NEIU for the last 5 years, but has been an educator for 30 years.

And since his favorite activity is co-teaching with his students, he’ll be in good company with the NEIU alums at Amundsen. 

A.F. Williamson April 05, 2013 at 04:39 PM
What a great development for our neighborhood high school! Love the new leadership there.


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