East High and University of Rochester renew partnership

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester City School board is extending East High School’s partnership with the University of Rochester. It started five years ago in an effort to improve the school. At that time it was the lowest-performing school in the district.

Officials at both East and the U of R say since the partnership began the culture has completely changed for the better. The school was in danger of being shut down five years ago and now it’s a Rochester success story.

A school out of time- that’s what East was considered by the state five years ago. Superintendent Shaun Nelms says partnering with the U of R is reviving East.

“Over our five years, we’ve seen the culture here completely change from one in which students were suspended at an alarming rate nearly 3,000 suspensions and that’s dropped by nearly 85 percent. And that’s because kids don’t misbehave in an environment where they feel cared about,” said Nelms.

Stephen Uebbing is in charge of the partnership from the U of R’s end. He says when the U of R got involved more than just the culture was revived.

“When we arrived, we found the school didn’t have any established curriculums, my colleagues developed a comprehensive, complete overhaul of the curriculum that’s still ongoing – it’s touched every subject and every student,” said Uebbing.

It’s not only teachers that are involved in decision involving the classroom.

“The teachers at East changed everything we originally brought to the table to make them better, the kids changed things they brought to the table, so I would say the models we had in mind in 2014, are still there, but they’ve changed to meet the unique needs of our kids,” said Uebbing.

Nelms agreed, saying, “We had one parent on PTA our first year here. One. Now we have more than 40 parents who are actively involved in making critical decisions in how this school operates the curriculum we offer key initiatives,” he said.

Rochester City School Board President Van White was also involved in the process since the beginning. He says this should be replicated in more schools in the district.

“To turn around a school to turn around a struggling high school it takes time. We are here at this point in history because a lot of people put their hands to the wheel and moved this thing forward,” said White.

White also says he’s concerned about funding continuing for the program given the district’s financial troubles. He says he wants leaders in Albany to know the program has seen great success and should continue to be funded.

The U of R’s president released a statement on the renewal of the partnership:

Today, the Rochester City School Board voted to extend the district’s partnership with the University of Rochester at East High School for an additional five years, building on the growing success of our relationship that began 2015. This Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) model continues to show our collaboration is working and it has helped the school forge a new culture and commitment to revival. Various partnerships with the University are contributing to this great academic progress, including the provision of needed mental, social-emotional, and physical health services to scholars, parents, and families. The University looks forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the New York State Education Department, Rochester City School District, Board of Education, local community partners and most importantly the East High community to achieve the school’s next levels of sustained success and to create and share effective practices beyond East.

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