Quinnipiac donates computers, books to Fair Haven School

Graduate student works with Fair Haven School students as part of the clinical reading program
Graduate student Amanda Wishart works with Fair Haven School students as part of the clinical reading program

Oct. 15, 2013 - The University has donated 93 computers and 1,500 books to Fair Haven School in New Haven. 

 Monica L. Cavender, an assistant professor in the School of Education, said Quinnipiac and Fair Haven School have had a professional development partnership for three years. Cavender learned from Rick Brownell, Quinnipiac's director of client services, that computers were being replaced at the university's Arnold Bernhard Library over the summer. Through a collaborative effort with Brownell and Ethan Gnepp, desktop support specialist, the older computers were recycled for use at Fair Haven School.  

"The timing was just perfect," Cavender said.  

Fair Haven is one of two professional development schools that the School of Education collaborates with as a partner in teaching and learning. Fair Haven has had limited computer access for students. With upcoming changes in standardized testing, students will be expected to be fluent in keyboard skills to express what they know about the tested content. With limited experiences in using the computer as a tool, Fair Haven students would have an unequal opportunity to raise test scores.  

Fair Haven Principal Margaret-Mary Gethings said the computers, to be part of a third-floor research laboratory for grades 6-8, will be a big help. Cavender and the School of Education were also able to secure 1,500 new books - surplus from a successful book drive in Orange.  

"The generosity has been insurmountable," Gethings said. "I think we feel as if we are a branch of Quinnipiac."

Fair Haven School, which serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade, is a newcomers' school, meaning that in addition to neighborhood students it welcomes non-English speaking students who have just arrived in the United States. 

"It's a special school," said Gethings, adding that Fair Haven is the perfect place for serving as a learning laboratory for Quinnipiac students. "The relationship started on a really small scale with future teachers from Quinnipiac coming in for observations. It grew through mutual confidence."

Gethings pointed out that three of four Quinnipiac students who interned at Fair Haven last year were hired for full-time positions, while the fourth also works in the New Haven school system.   During the Fall 2013 semester, eight graduate students from Quinnipiac's School of Education are taking part in a clinical reading program at Fair Haven. 

"Teacher candidates have the opportunity to implement what they have learned in their course on teaching reading to primary children," Cavender said. "Instead of just reading about it in books, they are at Fair Haven School applying the reading strategies with students. The experience with young children brings the authenticity of the learning to dynamic and engaging levels for each teacher candidate and primary child."  

The graduate students visit Fair Haven School on Thursday's from 2-2:45 p.m., followed by an hour-long discussion seminar unpacking the lessons and readying strategies implemented and assessed.  

"We're working on improving literacy through fun, engaging activities with the kids," said James Russell, a graduate student form Asheville, N.C. "It's wonderfully valuable for both myself and the children we're working with."  

Amanda Wishart, a graduate student from Southington, is fulfilling her student-teaching requirement in suburban Wallingford. She said she enjoys the diversity at Fair Haven.   "You get to work with different students and create lesson plans based on their individual abilities," she said.  

Cavender said educators from Quinnipiac and Fair Haven attended a professional development school conference together last year in New Orleans and presented the benefits for QU students and Fair Haven students with the clinical reading experience.  In March 2014, they will speak about the benefits of working together with the rich diversity that Fair Haven provides at the annual PDS conference in Las Vegas.  

"The relationship has been fabulous," Cavender said. Quinnipiac is a private, coeducational, nonsectarian institution