SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 15, 2013

Column: Horace Mann school benefits from SSU partnership

Diane O'Donnell
The Salem News

---- — “If ever there was a cause, if ever there can be a cause, worthy to be upheld by all of toil or sacrifice that the human heart can endure, it is the cause of Education. It has intrinsic and indestructible merits. It holds the welfare of mankind in its embrace.”

— Horace Mann

Horace Mann Laboratory School opened in 1896 on the first floor of the Sullivan Building, the flagship building of the Salem State University (then called the Salem Normal School). We moved to our current building in 1912 and became the Horace Mann Laboratory School in 1935. Since our founding, we have benefited from a close relationship with Salem State University, which sends eager education students to our school to support our mission and learn the art of teaching from our teacher-mentors.

Our connection to Salem State University provides our students and faculty, as well as those of the university, many benefits. This year, Horace Mann’s assistant principal also serves as a liaison to the university’s education department, forming another link to improve communication and collaboration between the two schools.

Our teacher-mentors are experienced educators who work closely with university students to model best practices in curriculum and instruction and provide professional guidance, advice and support. We welcome university students at all levels of their educational careers. Freshmen and sophomores begin their time in our school observing, keeping journals for reference, and discussing and processing their observations with our mentors and their university professors in classes and seminars. Junior pre-practicum students spend three or four mornings per week in our classrooms and are expected to teach several lessons, planned in close consultation with our teachers and approved by their university professors. Senior practicum students are with us full time for an entire semester and are gradually given teaching responsibilities until they are teaching full days, again in consultation and with the approval of our mentor teachers. Practicum students become part of our school community and are involved in staff meetings, professional development, field trips and extracurricular activities.

Our teacher-mentors serve as resources for university students, and several teach courses, lecture in education classes and present workshops at Salem State. In addition to education majors, we have students in the work-study program and students participating in community service programs who assist us in classrooms and with various assignments in our building.

Our connection to Salem State University provides numerous benefits to our students and staff. Horace Mann students enjoy the advantage of the enthusiasm of young educators who bring new ideas and fresh approaches to our classrooms. Additionally, university students work with small groups of our students during literacy and math times, providing extra academic support and smaller student-teacher ratios. Special subject classes, such as science, art and physical education are enhanced when university students afford our students lower adult-student ratios and provide support in preparing materials, setting up equipment, and assisting individual and small groups of students. Future art teachers work with our students, under the supervision of our art specialist, to complete visual arts projects, some of which have been exhibited at the university. Over the years, Salem State students have participated in Horace Mann Lab School’s Literacy and Math Nights, planning and presenting activities alongside our teachers to promote and encourage interest in these crucial areas of the curriculum.

Our students have had the opportunity to use several of the facilities at Salem State University. For example, Horace Mann students have paired with university students in chemistry classes and traveled to labs at the university to complete studies and hands-on projects. We benefit from the opportunity to use the university’s auditorium for our concerts, the Ellison Campus Center for our school meetings and the gymnasium for our physical education classes.

The university’s Center for Childhood and Youth Studies is an interdisciplinary group of Salem State University faculty members who conduct research and hold lectures and workshops on topics of interest to those who work with children. Our faculty members are invited to attend these professional opportunities, as are the faculty and students at Salem State. The Salem State University Center for Education and Community provides professional development opportunities to teachers, students and other educational professionals. Our teachers have both presented and participated in the center’s Best Practices in Education Conference. Furthermore, not only have Horace Mann faculty members served as presenters at Salem State’s Northeastern Global Education Center workshops, but also several have been awarded this group’s Global Educator of the Year award.

The partnership between Salem State University and the Horace Mann Laboratory School has been a long and successful one. We are proud of this relationship and hope for its continuation for future students and faculty of both schools.

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Diane O’Donnell is interim principal of Horace Mann Laboratory School in Salem. This is one in a series of columns from the Community Advisory Board for the Salem schools.