Winter 2003 Magazine Archive & SearchMuhlenberg Home

 

President's Message

Colleges and Communities need each other


photo of James Steffy

Muhlenberg students benefit educationally and personally by interacting in a positive way with the community. Through internships in business, government or social services, or as student teachers or community volunteers, more than half of our student body participates in community involvement or community service prior to graduating from the College. I share with you an example.

Because we are a neighboring educational institution, it is natural that Muhlenberg’s faculty, staff and students would feel a particular kinship to their counterparts in the Allentown School District. Plagued by low student test scores and ever-increasing numbers of needy students, the district has been labeled “distressed” by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Our educational department faculty, recognizing the plight of urban schools nationwide, have a keen interest in preparing future teachers who are highly qualified. Michael Carbone, Kathleen Milligan and others have gone well beyond the routine practice of placing student teachers. In collaboration with Valerie Lane, director of community services and volunteers, they mobilized our campus community to assist. As a result, hundreds of our students, along with scores of faculty and staff, are involved in working relationships with the Allentown School District across each academic year.

Under the auspices of our education department’s Professional Development School, 60 primary teachers in the Allentown School District have been trained in the latest techniques for teaching reading. This program also supplied calculators for all fifth graders at Central Elementary School and offered workshops for teachers on developing higher-order thinking skills through the use of calculators.

Our Writing Center and Center for Ethics have created a college admission-tutoring program for ninth- through twelfth-grade students who are tutored on campus by Muhlenberg students. Youth and prejudice programming, sponsored by the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding, brings district middle and high school students to campus each year.

With the help of a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Muhlenberg has become the host site for the Governor’s Urban Academy for Teaching Excellence, a summer enrichment program for teachers in inner-city schools around the Commonwealth.

Student volunteers, organized through our Office of Community Services, participate in the “America Reads” program, serving as tutors at five Allentown elementary schools and two middle schools. A recent $1.4 million Senate appropriation will promote use of NASA research techniques in the College’s faculty-student research programs. It also will make possible the transmission of on-line data from a new Muhlenberg-owned and controlled telescope at a NASA location in Australia. This data, providing nighttime images for daytime classes, also will be shared with astronomy classes in the Allentown School District and surrounding schools. The list goes on.

At Muhlenberg, we strongly believe that leadership opportunities exist for students through community
involvement. The simple fact is that colleges and communities need each other to prosper.

James Steffy, Interim President


 

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