New JCSU Partnership Deepens, Diversifies CTI Work with CMS Teachers

In a move designed to deepen and diversify its engagement in professional development for teachers, Charlotte Teachers Institute (CTI) has formed a new educational partnership with Johnson C. Smith University to support classroom teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

“Our collaboration with Johnson C. Smith University will add exciting new ideas and expertise to our existing partnership with CMS and with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte,” said CTI Executive Director Scott Gartlan. “We will be able to welcome CMS teachers and UNC Charlotte professors to JCSU’s historic West End campus, building on our strong foundation of transforming teachers and students from pre-kindergarten through college by focusing on content knowledge, creativity, collaboration and leadership.”

Through CTI seminars led by UNC Charlotte and JCSU faculty, CMS teachers learn new content, work collaboratively with other teachers and develop new curricula for their students. Teachers serve as leaders in the institute, working collaboratively with university faculty. To date, more than 450 CMS teachers have participated in 68 CTI seminars, producing more than 700 original curriculum units and enriching more than 103,000 students.

“We join this partnership with enthusiasm and with an eagerness to learn and to share our strengths,” said JCSU President Clarence D. Armbrister. “As a historic urban university located in the heart of Charlotte, we are uniquely situated to work with the other partners to better the lives of CMS teachers and students and to contribute to the transformation of public education.”

CTI and its partners provide activities on active learning and leadership opportunities for teachers. Through intensive, seven-month seminars, led by faculty from UNC Charlotte and JCSU, CMS teachers learn new content, work collaboratively with other district teachers and develop curriculum units for their own classrooms. The Charlotte Teachers Institute is housed in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at UNC Charlotte. This fall, JCSU will lead seminars for the first time; CMS teachers are currently applying for spots in the seminars.

“Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools looks forward to continuing the collaborative spirit of our partnership with Charlotte Teachers Institute and UNC Charlotte in the framework of preparing and strengthening the opportunities for teachers,” said CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox. “The reach stretches even farther with the addition of Johnson C. Smith University, providing another level of access to quality preparation for our educators.”

CTI is founded on four pillars of strong professional development: content knowledge, creativity, leadership and collaboration. The new partnership will broaden the partnership’s capacity within each of the areas of emphasis.

“We are very pleased to welcome Johnson C. Smith University to this dynamic partnership with UNC Charlotte and CMS to support the Charlotte Teachers Institute,” said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. “CTI has served an important role in strengthening Charlotte’s public education system by providing teachers with high quality professional development opportunities.”

CTI’s focus on building social capital among teachers, faculty and graduate students addresses the community-based Leading on Opportunity initiative’s priorities to tackle the community’s upward mobility, stated Gartlan.

“Our work aims at strengthening Charlotte’s education system through early education and college and career readiness,” Gartlan said. “Adding JSCU as a collaborator brings important relationships and knowledge that can help move us forward in a strategic way.”

Photo: Margaret Kocherga, Ph.D. nanoscale science graduate student, UNC Charlotte; Phil Carver, eighth grade science teacher, James Martin Middle School; Tom Schmedake, associate professor of chemistry, UNC Charlotte; Geneva Bell, eighth grade science teacher, James Martin Middle School; participated in a CTI summer research experience.