02.08.05 Tuesday@REI NOTES: Intergenerational Learning - Transcript - from attendee Ted Takacs

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 02/09/2005 - 02:36.

Betsy Merkel of REI introduced Peter Whitehouse, who
introduced the panelists and facilitators:

  • Dr. Cathy Whitehouse, the wife of Peter Whitehouse, is a
    founder and the Principal of The Intergenerational School, the only such school
    in the world and a charter school serving eastern Cleveland.
  • Kirstin Frei-Herrman is the Project Director of Experience
    Corps/RSVP of Greater Cleveland, a program providing an intergenerational
    tutoring program in the Cleveland Public Schools.
  • Crystal Davis is from the Office of Family and Community
    Engagement, Cleveland Municipal School District, an office dedicated to
    stimulating family and community involvement in the education of our children
    and implementers of aspects of the No Child Left Behind program.

The facilitators for the panel discussion were Monica
Dumitriu and Betsey Merkel, both Consultants at REI.

Dr. Whitehouse commented that meeting notes will be posted
on REALNEO and all participants were invited to add their comments to this
post. The Intergenerational School
at Case is involved in “reinventing aging� and creating a new learning
environment that accommodates the needs of seniors. This program has focused on
Alzheimer’s in the past, but now is focusing on more positive aspects of aging.
Linda Fried at Hopkins invented the
term “experience core� and this term is apt in describing the tremendous social
capital in the elder population in greater Cleveland.

The education of children at Fairhill
Center is part of the Cleveland
Foundation “Successful Aging� initiative. What does it mean to age successfully
in our community and what do government and nonprofit organizations have to do with this process. We are involved
in exiting transformations with the goal of President Hundert of creating
world’s most powerful learning environment at Case. This goal is all about
enhancing our energy around learning. The SAGES program is ramping up to allow
our university providing a bold new model for undergraduate liberal arts education
at a major research university. The Department of Cognitive Science under founding
Chair Mark Turner will focus on the study of human creativity in the arts and

On February 22nd the Tuesdays@REI, Mark Turner
will organize a community event around what cognitive science can do for
economic development in the community. The Board of Case wants to build links
with the community including the Cleveland School System.

Cathy Whitehouse

Dr Whitehouse gave a PowerPoint
presentation reviewing the intergenerational programs at the Intergenerational
School. This school will serve as a
model to encourage and invigorate the community and bring people of different
ages together rather than segregating them by age. The school is in its fifth year
of operation. The school began with 2 classrooms and 30 students. Now, in the heart
of the main Fairhill Center
building, the school is situated at the edge of eastern portion of Cleveland.
This is a community school, a free independent public school (charter). This
school is open to any resident of Ohio,
but independent of public school system. The school receives state funding at
the rate of $5,000 per student. The school is not selective in its choice of
students. The school is fiscally and academically accountable to the Ohio
Department of Education.

The Report Card for the school last year was “excellent�,
making this the only charter school in Ohio
to receive an excellent rating. If you were to attend an event at the school,
you would hear the children read the school mission statement. This mission
statement is at the forefront of their thinking and decision making. They promote
lifelong learning and spirited citizenship for learners of all ages.

Their Model of Intergenerational Learning includes:

  • Sharing wisdom among generations
  • Creating common stories
  • Infusion of life-issues into the curriculum
  • Creating positive two-way relationships
  • Reflecting real life in the community

The young learners include 396 students in grades K-6, but
the school does not have grade levels. They are, however, forced to categorize
students at grade levels by the state. They have seniors and retirees working
together to the benefit of both groups. For example, one project partnered
students young and old to generate a PowerPoint presentation on some topic on the
history of Cleveland.

Case and other college students have participated in a Wisdom
Fair as part of the SAGES program. The school has also work with the Francis
Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case to provide health education and to enable
nursing students to experience what healthy development is like in children. The
school is in the process of implementing a college mentors program (service
learning) to mentor older students toward college attendance. One objective of
the program is to introduce students to the concept of a college education, a
concept they not have experienced through their family.

In the Development Curriculum, students are taught:

  • Learning is a lifelong developmental process.
  • Knowledge is socially constructed in the context
    of a diverse community.
  • Students go through development at their on pace
    in all core academic areas: Language arts , mathematics, science and social

The goal of the program is to infuse intergenerational
concepts and social relationships into the curriculum.

There is an emphasis on literacy learning involving multi
age classes in which older students act as teachers. The school has an intergenerational
literature collection providing a basis for conversations among young and
senior people. A Reading Mentors program pairs up older students with younger
students. The process involves older students teaching golden words to the
younger students in a process involving hand claps associated with the golden

Through a grant from MBNA, the school has acquired a wonderful
intergenerational literature collection. These books are available for use in every
classroom. Last year, the school had 30 reading mentors. They can not take on
any more reading mentors. The Mentors are able to share their love of books and

With the help of Peter Whitehouse, a program is being
initiated in which reading mentors will be brought in who are seniors who might
be beginning to have cognitive difficulties. These seniors may be unable to
read adult books but they will be able to share children’s books with the
students. The school has also implemented a mother and daughter experience team

The school program includes social studies and the study of community
connections. The school has developed relationships with long-term care
facility partners and they engage in shared activities that support their social
studies curriculum. In one such class, children read children’s books with the
facility residents participating.

This experience includes teaching the children to interview
people and deal with older people. Students meet the seniors and each student
takes with them an important memento and talk to the seniors about it. Students
wove a memoir quilt to document this experience.

The school successes in 2003-4 include:

  • Test scores in reading 86% pass rate; 75% of
    students scored at accelerated level.
  • Only charter school in Ohio
    to obtain excellent score on the State report card
  • The school is most proud of its 100% attendance
    at parent/teacher conferences for five years.
  • The school received the Northern Ohio Live
    excellence in education award.
  • Volunteer contributions exceed 1000 hours.

This builds on the theme from last week; the topic of
building on young people for economic gain. This is the only intergenerational
school and its example will, perhaps, will promote similar learning programs
elsewhere. Mark Friedman and Martin Fried have demonstrated the health benefits
to seniors of volunteering in schools. Thus, there is interest in the
intergenerational program as a model of health to help preserve cognitive
ability through involvement.

Kirsten Frei-Herrman

In the Experience Core program, people age 55 and older
engage in schools in a one-on-one literacy tutoring program. Census statistics indicate
that there are 34 million people over the age of 55. With Medical advances,
older adults can expect to live longer, providing opportunities for these
people to give back to their community and feel connected. Mark Friedman is one
of the founders of Experience Core. They have implemented an intergenerational
school with 97 RSVP providing tutoring in the STARS program. With funding from
the Cleveland Foundation Successful Aging initiative, they hope to expand the program.

They have a total of 140 volunteers (seniors) in 11 schools.
Experience Core tutors devoted 42,500 hours in the schools. Around 50% of the
volunteers dedicate 15 to 20 hours per week in the schools.

The Experience Core program is good for students, but the program
focuses on the benefit of getting older adults engaged with the community.
Principals work with the new tutors and these
tutors start out “walking slow�. Bby the end of the year it seams as if years
have been taken away from these seniors. The program focus is on literacy. They
work mainly in K-3, since by the 4th grade their reading level will
determine their future educational success.

They have worked with 2nd and 3rd grade
students who do not even know the alphabet. In conduction this program they
came to realize that this may be the first time an adult has ever paid
attention to some of the children. 98% of the students in the program have
shown improved self-confidence, 93% demonstrated improved literacy, and 100% developed
an improved attitude toward reading. These are results that the classroom
teachers have noticed. Next year the program will be expanded and go into 2 to 4 additional schools. Thus the program
next year will include 15 to 16 schools with 260 volunteers, up from 200
volunteers this past year.

Crystal Davis

Ms. Davis handed out “No Child Left Behind� program booklets
to attendees. What is the impact to Elders participating in schools and
learning in schools? The “No Child Left Behind� program stresses accountability
for results, emphasis for what works based on research, parental involvement.

The program supports learning in the early years to prevent
learning disabilities. Schools measure progress in reading and math to enable
parents to have objective data to know where their children stand in relation
to other children. Also, parents are provided with a report the effectiveness of
the schools their children are attending. This provides parents with the opportunity
to send their children to higher performing schools. The program is also
designed to ensure high teacher quality. Schools are provided with more
resources through Title I grants.

One of the program objectives is to turn around the
achievement in low performing schools and provide the flexibility to implement
innovative programs. There is an achievement gap between rich and poor
children; only 34% of 4th graders read at an adequate level. Testing
provides parents, teachers, principals, and school boards with a metric to know
how well they are performing. Community and volunteer groups have information
they can use to focus on providing services to help the neediest schools.

Volunteers provide a link to the past and a sense of family.
Seniors within the community have values that transcend transient fads and
values and children learn new wisdom from elder volunteers. A key to a good
education is the involvement of a caring adult. A breakdown in the family
structure has made this more critical.

In January 2002, President Bush introduced law to improve
student achievement. On an individual student level, parents grandparents and
others in community must be active participants. Primary education must support
parents and produce responsible students. Funding from the federal government
covers the education of scientifically proven programs.

Charter schools are independent public schools. They offer a
viable alternative to public schools. If a parent is not satisfied with a
particular school they can transfer them to another school. Supplemental
educational services are to be provided to students at no cost to parent. There
is also a strong focus on literacy. Volunteering by seniors is imperative to
success of program.

The Cleveland Public Schools have experienced budget cuts
that have impacted their intergenerational programs. They had a program called
Host that was eliminated due to budget cuts. The Host program provided a teacher
who would organize a room for children needing help. Senior volunteers could come
into the classroom and tutor students one-on-one. The seniors were able to make
observations they could share with the teachers, who would share this
information with the parents, where appropriate. With the budget cuts, the
teachers who set up the classrooms had to be sent back to the classroom. Now,
the Cleveland Public Schools are looking to get Administrative people and Guidance
Counselors to run the program.

Question and Answer

Question, Norman
There exists a clear understanding in this region that the
Cleveland Public Schools are critical to the long-term success of the region, and
it seems there are good resources in this room. What are the critical next steps
we need to take to help the Cleveland
Public School system? What would

Crystal Davis: In
an urban school setting the District feels that the school funding policy does
not allow a fair allocation of funding to Cleveland
schools. The District is brining in seniors to talk about life skills with students.
The District will not put a levy on the ballot this year. They need more volunteers
for the schools.

Cathy Whitehouse:
The more we can think in collaborative terms the better. We need more
opportunities for sharing to occur between good charter schools and the Cleveland
Public School System. In Chicago,
one can find great collaboration occurring among city schools and charter
schools. Teachers unions, etc, are trying to get all charter schools closed. We
should demand that the Charter School
be implemented as it was intended to be and close the bad schools and recognize
the good schools and support them. Discriminate in a good and productive way.

Kirsten Frei-Herrman:
Volunteerism adds a component to make the schools better. We need more
volunteers to tutor in the Cleveland Public Schools. The Host program was cut,
but they have been working outside the Host program. Such programs require
community awareness and funding.

Hopefully, the early childhood development economic model
will encourage companies to offer volunteers to schools to improve quality of the
schools around their businesses. The engagement of college students and seniors
make the process of learning a celebration of learning. We need to instill a sense
of passion around learning.

Question, Betsey Merkel: We have discussed the value of
collaborating; how do you folks work together in collaboration and how could
you improve your collaboration in the future?

Cathy Whitehouse: Charter schools are interesting in partnering and
learning. It has proven difficult to achieve communication between the charter
school community and public schools, in an effort to learn from one another. The
charter school community is a fledgling initiative. There are no well established
networks of charter schools. What are the next steps to connect better? Sit
down with Barbara Byrd Bennet to discuss how they can learn from one another.

Question: We have heard the panel talk about the possibility of
collaboration and the absence of competition between charter schools and public
schools. Parent choice will bring about a free market mentality to the education
arena. Are there ways to transcend the image of Chartered Schools as better
than public schools, which draws people away from public schools?

Cathy Whitehouse:
Charter schools are interesting in partnering and learning. It has proven
difficult to achieve Charter schools were intended to be opportunities for
innovation. Few charter schools are hotbeds of innovation. The Intergenerational
School was formed by a group of educators
who wanted to provide innovative teaching methods to students who couldn’t
otherwise benefit from such an innovative learning environment. Thus, the
school was started to provide a chance to innovative.

Crystal Davis: The
Cleveland Public
School district does not have a dislike
of Charter Schools. They are independent public schools, but they operate under
a state charter. They offer a choice for parents.

Cathy Whitehouse: We
haven’t talked about older children, because it is hard to get people involved
because lots of politics inhibits participation in events at this level. If you
are interested in volunteering come and talk to us about what you want to do
and we can discuss what we can do to make it happen. We receive $5,000 per
child with class sizes of 16 students; putting money into teachers and
classrooms with lean administration. Everyone is stretched to the max.

The Cleveland Public Schools get more than $5,000 per
student. Charter Schools are doomed to fail with the current level of funding.
At board meeting on Saturday, we will need to decide on a strategy to meet the break
even point.

Norman Roulet: A
retired businessman teacher was Norm’s best teacher in high school. What you
are doing is creating an entrepreneurial educational environment that is unique
in terms of not being a Mc Donalds concept or a monolithic industrial age big
public school. This is a big struggle and we are failing to adequately support
the concept of Charter Schools. What can we do to make us the Silicon Valley of
Education in NEO. This school was started by teachers. Call groups around town
to look into putting a charter school in a developing area, because we have
plenty of real estate available and the business community could help.

University circle would be a great location and the cognitive
science department might be an option.

At REI a technique is to create roundtables or communities
of interest and the COIL format seems to help expand awareness and opportunity.
REI could create a round table.

Ben Beckman: Harness
volunteers at Habitat for Humanity. Take your $100,000 operating budget and
create a position to call everyone in the area to recruit volunteers from area
industries and get a contact with industries to provide a funding/building
opportunity. There are old buildings on the Fairhill Campus. They have a commitment
to environmental sustainability. At one time, they wanted an older building to
create an Adam Lewis style learning environment.

Monica Dumitriu: You have commented that the
intergeneration school is at the heart of the Fairhill Building This seems
appropriate for such a learning environment.

A group to assemble again to continue the dialogue would be

Experience core is a successful national model.

appreciation of intergenerational learning

Dear February 8th REI Tuesday participants,

Thanks to the speakers, facillitators and audience for your enthusiastic celebration of intergenerational learning. Thanks especially to Ted for posting our meeting proceddings at 3:36 am this morning! In case anyone needs further information about the program Cathy, Kirsten and I referred to it is Experience Corps not "Core." The Intergenerational School is beginning its next phase of strategic learning which includes looking to intensify its colaboraitons with Case and other community organizations. We are also looking to potentially double our size so we were pleased to connect with some attendees knowledgeable about real estate. Please look to our web site for further information www.intergenschool.org.

Peter Whitehouse peter [dot] whitehouse [at] case [dot] edu 

recognition for The Intergenerational School

In this article

13 Cleveland schools highlighted for strong performance

Posted by Thomas Ott April 25, 2008

The New York-based Institute for Student Achievement and the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University recognized 13 Cleveland area schools for their programming. The Intergenerational School was among them.

This is not the only recognition TIS has recieved. The US Department of Education has TIS in their laudatory crosshairs as well.

Their are some smart people in NEO. What are we doing to support and bolster their efforts?

Check out this little video on TIS. Let's give TIS a hand.