Humanities and Sciences
IC Solidifies Ties with Local Elementary School
Ithaca College and South Hill Elementary School have long had an informal relationship. The two educational institutions announced a formal partnership on Tuesday, March 17. Students, faculty, and administrators from Ithaca College and the Ithaca City School District participated in a morning assembly at the South Hill school, which include the signing of a "declaration of partnership." President Peggy Williams, school superintendent Judith Pastel, and others representing students, faculty, and parents from both institutions were signatories to the partnership agreement. The president and the principal, Michael Ouckama, exchanged T-shirts to symbolize the partnership, as did Catherine Henry '98, president of the Student Government Association, and Robin Fox, representing South Hill students.
The assembly featured music by the Ithaca Brass (faculty quintet), plus two songs composed for the occasion by South Hill fourth graders. Their lyrics captured the sentiments of the day's events.
We're South Hill and they're IC
A real highlight of the morning had to be President Williams's virtuoso display of yo-yo tricks, demonstrating to the kids that she hadn't lost her memories of childhood -- or her touch.
The assembly was followed by classroom activities, including music, storytelling, dance, physical education, and new games involving Ithaca College faculty and students in each of the grades. "We wanted every student and teacher to go home that day saying, 'I did something really neat with someone from Ithaca College today,' " said Bill Russell, H&S associate dean and director of the Center for Teacher Education. Students from both schools were tremendously excited to be working together, and all of the day's events were marked by liveliness and no small degree of hilarity. Everyone proudly sported new buttons made to commemorate the partnership, and students signed a banner created by Alice Rockey, assistant to Russell.
Several College faculty and staff, including Bill Scoones, interim dean of the School of Business, math professors Patricia Woodworth and Margaret Robinson, and retired politics faculty member Jake Ryan, had been members of the South Hill School Council. The partnership is an outgrowth of conversations between the council and the College's Center for Teacher Education. Associate dean Russell met frequently with the school council to make plans for the partnership celebration. He pointed out that the celebration was intended not only to mark the beginning of new programs, but also to recognize the work that has gone on quietly through the years.
South Hill principal Ouckama said the partnership represents a tremendous opportunity for his students, from prekindergarten right up through fifth grade. "First and foremost, it can have an impact by stimulating these young people and expanding their horizons. It can expose them to areas that they otherwise might not have an opportunity to explore but in which Ithaca College has a particular strength, such as the sciences, theater, and communications. The partnership won't interfere with what each institution needs to do for its own students, but capitalize on what each has to offer the other."
Ithaca College education students have long served student-teaching assignments at the school in such areas as music and physical education. Students from Pat Tempesta's Elements of Tutoring class frequently serve as mentors in South Hill classrooms. Psychology research teams often use South Hill as a research site. South Hill teachers and administrators regularly make presentations in the College's teacher education courses. In recent years Ithaca students have also volunteered in the South Hill library, on the playground, and for special events and have served as instructors in after-school programs. Ithaca College faculty have made presentations as part of the center's Partnership in Teaching program and serve on the South Hill School Council.
The natural relationship between the two schools goes beyond being geographic neighbors. Many Ithaca College faculty and staff are parents of current South Hill students (not to mention South Hill graduates themselves), while the elementary school counts among its teachers and staff a number of Ithaca College alumni. An informal show of hands at the assembly showed that over a third of the children have siblings or parents who attended the College or who work at it.
A South Hill/Ithaca College Partnership Committee, with representation from both institutions, is being formed to monitor progress and facilitate further cooperative ventures between the two institutions.
Photos by Sheryl D. Sinkow