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3 to PhD

Transforming Education: The Story of 3 to PhDTM

It’s 10:15 on a cloudy fall Tuesday at Faubion School in northeast Portland. Ken Howell, a master’s in teaching student at Concordia University, is working one-on-one with his second grade partner, Tariq. “Sound it out, you can do it,” says Howell with gentle encouragement. Without hesitation, Tariq reads the page, beaming from ear-to-ear. “Great job, T!” exclaims Howell as the unlikely pair high-five. On the playground, two fifth grade boys start to argue during a heated game of four-square. Before things can escalate, Ben Culpan, a Concordia men’s soccer player, steps in. “Come on, guys, it’s a game. Now let’s have some fun!” And with that, Culpan takes a square and joins in. Down the hall, Concordia exercise and sports science student Lindsay Mangan and nursing student Mackenzie Kampa are helping take fitness measurements with a class of fourth graders. One student, looking worried, asks the pair “What are we being tested on?” “How many sit-ups you can do,” replies Kampa with a smile. “Good,” says the fourth grader, looking relieved, “I’m great at sit-ups.” Welcome to another day of 3 to PhD.™

 It Takes a Village…

 It’s a story that has become all too familiar. Students at older schools in lower income neighborhoods fall behind in test scores. Finding themselves strategically located next to one such school, Dr. Joe Mannion, former dean of the College of Education at Concordia University, and Keylah Boyer, Concordia director of undergraduate studies and associate professor, knew there was a unique opportunity at hand. “We asked Faubion Principal LaShawn Lee how can we help, what can we do together that we can’t do individually?” The result is a groundbreaking initiative aptly titled “3 to PhD.” Simply put, the 3 to PhD Initiative is an innovative approach to transforming learning, specifically designed to close the achievement gap. This unique initiative leverages the power of collaborative partners to create an economically viable, high-impact and high-quality education gateway that extends opportunities for both Faubion and Concordia students. Students, families, teachers, and the community as a whole are all stakeholders and partners, working together for a common goal: closing the achievement gap while getting students into a “college” mindset at an early age. Once fully realized, the initiative will include focused mentoring, collaborative spaces, and optimal uses of technology and creativity, along with a practical focus on “STREAM” – science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and math.

Why Faubion?

The statistics speak volumes. In the neighborhoods that feed into Faubion – the largest catchment (attendance) area for any pre-K through eighth grade school in the Portland Public School District – 38% of residents live at or below the federal poverty level, ethnic diversity is significant, and roughly 40% of residents are renters. At Faubion itself, most students are children of color, 90% live in public housing or trailer parks, 16% speak English as a second language, and too many struggle with weight. Academically, only 55% and 44% of third graders met reading and math benchmarks respectively, and achievement declines through graduation. According to Faubion principal LaShawn Lee, “The facility is described as poor. But our children are not poor in spirit. They’re not poor in motivation. And they’re not poor in creativity.” The 3 to PhD Initiative takes this to heart as it helps students channel their spirit, motivation, and creativity to achieve academic success. [Faubion statistics courtesy of Portland Public Schools, 2012-2013.]

“It is critical that we continue to work together to create the best possible education opportunities for Faubion students.” – Keylah Boyer, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Associate Professor, and liaison to Faubion School

Why Concordia?

Through the Lutheran lens, Concordia students live simultaneously in two kingdoms – one where God rules in mercy and grace, and the earthly kingdom of neighborhoods and communities. Living with this dual citizenship, Concordia students, faculty, and staff are called to be actively involved in our neighborhoods, working for justice and transforming society through our words and actions. This calling makes Concordia University’s mantra of “servant leadership” a mission-perfect fit with Faubion. Or as a Concordia student tour guide was recently overheard saying, “Service, that’s who we are!” At its core, the 3 to PhD Initiative catalyzes Concordia students to become leaders who do transform society, which, in turn, helps the university realize its mission. It embraces transformation and change by revolutionizing the education model for both Faubion and Concordia students. The initiative develops an integrated pre-K through age 20+ platform that will close the achievement gap, providing rigorous servant leadership opportunities for Concordia students in the process. Here’s an overview of the key elements:

On-Site College of Education

Imagine being a junior at Concordia majoring in education. In today’s Educational Technology class, you learn how to use an iPad and a special app to help readers having trouble with vowels. Following class, you walk down the hall to the reading lab where you put the lesson you just learned to work with a trio of second graders struggling with vowels. In the master plan for 3 to PhD, the College of Education will co-locate with Faubion, operating on-site. By doing so, Concordia education majors will work daily with Faubion students. This practical model of integrated education rigorously challenges both schools – providing years of hands-on training for Concordia students and a willing battalion of extra educators-in-training to serve as mentors, tutors, and one-on-one literacy coaches

Comprehensive Early Childhood Development Center

Another hallmark of the 3 to PhD Initiative is an anticipated early childhood development center. This community/campus resource would provide a remarkable learning environment for early childhood education students and faculty, serving as a magnet for vulnerable low income families with young children. As a point of reference, Head Start – the national program that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families – generates a return on investment for society of $7 or more, according to numerous economic studies. Once fully realized, the 3 to PhD Initiative holds the promise to do even more, fully engaging Concordia students and Faubion students (and their families), along with other children and families from the surrounding community.

Collaborative Community Health and Wellness Clinic

Helping bridge the achievement gap is about more than education alone. It also involves the health and wellness of the students and their families. To that end, the 3 to PhD Initiative is also exploring the development of a community health clinic and wellness center, leveraging close, working relationships with physicians, nurses, and healthcare providers from across our community, including current partners like Trillium Family Services and many others. The goal? Building a healthy community. Students from Concordia’s nursing and health sciences (nutrition, exercise, and sport science) departments would work in the clinic, providing them with invaluable real-world experience. In conjunction with community partners, and consistent with a “wrap-around” model, the initiative would also include support for proper pre-natal care and other measures designed to reduce the probability of low birth weight babies for expectant mothers, along with proven practices to help lower childhood and adult obesity.

Science Lab Partnership

Locating basic science labs at Faubion is another element on the drawing board – one that would make an impact that is two-fold. First, it would put Concordia science majors on the Faubion campus, opening the door for much-needed mentor and tutor possibilities. And second, it would lead to the development of the STEM (part of STREAM) focus for Faubion students – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. A year-round STEM academy, led by Concordia students and faculty, would increase learning and participation in these key areas – especially among girls and under-represented populations – ultimately preparing Faubion students for success in high school, college, and various careers.

“Concordia University is deeply thankful for Portland Public Schools’ outreach for this partnership opportunity.” – Gary Withers, Executive Vice President, External Affairs, Concordia University

Integrated Focus on Technology

Smart use of technology is a key component of the 3 to PhD Initiative. Studies show that proper use of technology among young learners leads to achievement improvements down the road. Technology drives learning, engages students, and allows for development at different levels. It has also been shown to make students more autonomous in how they attain knowledge. During Concordia’s Governor Victor Atiyeh Leadership in Education Awards ceremony this past February, online education partner HotChalk donated 120 iPads to Faubion. In the future, Concordia students will be on hand to help with technology training. Subhead: Service Corp Expansion Copy: In keeping with our mission to prepare leaders for the transformation of society, Concordia Service Corps is a mentorship program designed to promote meaningful relationships between university students and elementary and middle school students at risk. The Student Service Corps is divided into a variety of specialized groups, each working one-on-one with local school kids to address the issues of low graduation rates, low test results, and a lack of positive role models. The overall Service Corp includes teacher corps, athlete corps, health corps, green corps, and performing arts corps. With the 3 to PhD Initiative, the role of the Concordia Service Corps would be expanded, making it so virtually every Concordia undergraduate student would have the leadership opportunity to mentor both Faubion students, as well as students at surrounding schools, such as Woodlawn, Vernon, and Trinity Lutheran. As you can see, the 3 to PhD Initiative, as its vision evolves, allows future Concordia University teachers, nurses, scientists, social workers, and others to hone their craft with the professional rigor provided by this one-of-a-kind on-campus experience. It creates a blended education environment where Concordia students are mentors and models of servant leadership for at-risk children who too often find role models in the wrong places. But how will we know if it works? What does it take for the 3 to PhD Initiative to be judged a success?

Measuring Results

3 to PhD is a performance-based program, where key performance indicators will help measure the program’s success. For example, Concordia students engaged in service/servant learning at Faubion can be tracked, measured, and monitored. This includes the use of standards and best practices available from a variety of national organizations, including The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, Campus Compact, and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Moreover, the goals for the Faubion students have been identified by Portland’s All Hands Raised partnership, in their highly regarded “Cradle to Career” Initiative, with goals that include kindergarten readiness and attendance, grade level reading by third grade, and many more empirically proven benchmarks that are the stepping stones for closing the achievement gap.

Proof Positive

Initial elements of the 3 to PhD Initiative have been successfully helping students at Faubion close the achievement gap for the past four years. From Concordia student-athletes helping with structured recess to Concordia education majors teaching art classes and serving as reading partners, the program is working. According to Faubion’s Principal Lee, “Since we implemented the structured recess program, {recess incidents} went from 70% of office referrals to zero percent of office referrals. And the Concordia University one-to-one literacy program has averaged two levels of improvement per student.” What’s more, Concordia’s 3 to PhD Initiative is aligned with a larger Multnomah County effort to improve educational outcomes for all children and youth, from “Cradle to Career.” Concordia President, Charles Schlimpert, has a leadership role in the partnership and many members of the Concordia community are engaged in the work to help all students achieve their full potential. As for the community, on November 6 of 2012, Portland voters approved a major Portland Public Schools capital bond measure, with funding of $27.5 million for the razing and rebuilding of Faubion School. The leadership at Portland Public Schools has provided outstanding support for the partnership and the 3 to PhD Initiative.

“Efforts like Concordia’s 3 to PhD collaboration reflect the focus of the All Hands Raised partnership – aligning the community’s efforts to improve education outcomes for our children and youth.” – Dan Ryan, Chief Executive Officer, All Hands Raised

Critical Goals Require Imaginative Solutions

Closing the educational achievement gap for some of Portland’s most vulnerable children is one of our community’s highest goals as a society. This multifaceted approach to closing the gap will have a significant and lifelong impact on the children and families at Faubion, the students and faculty at Concordia University, and the community as a whole. Preparing leaders for the transformation of society has long been Concordia’s mission. Through the 3 to PhD Initiative, the university is able to put that mission to positive use each and every day – one student, one classroom, one school at a time. Headline: Turning vision into reality. Copy: While many hands have touched the 3 to PhD Initiative to date, much more work remains – particularly for capital development. The plans call for Concordia University to raise an additional $15 million in support of programmatic capital components, including the new home for the College of Education, an early childhood development center, and a possible health and wellness clinic. The goal is to complete fundraising by the end of 2015. This would allow construction to start after school is out in the late spring of 2016, for completion by the start of school in 2017. Concordia University officials are in constant communication with Portland Public Schools officials on various partnership documents and important activities to ensure full public participation.