Happy New Year!

We hope you had a restful winter break. It has been a busy fall for us here at NCRVE. We are happy to say that 19 teams signed the Agreement for Program Improvement. Beyond signing the Agreement we are thrilled to note a network-wide trend--expansion.

While we are nearly half way through the school year we have many plans ahead for network teams. The network staff is blessed in one major way--we have a bit more staff. With two field consultants (Marilyn Raby and Dr. Lola Jackson), one evaluation specialist (Carolyn) and an additional pair of hands (Sally) around the Berkeley office, we are more armed and ready to help teams in any way that we can.

Since September we have begun using team managers-- members of the Urban Schools Network staff (Mimi, Mayo, Maggie, Marilyn and Erika) who are eager to learn about your schools and institutions, and to provide assistance. You can expect to hear from these managers once a month to discuss new successes and challenges. Also team managers serve as a conduit of information. Team managers report on your needs and concerns so that we at urban network central have our pulse on how best to serve you.

In addition to team manager efforts, this fall field consultants were able to make 13 visits to Urban Network teams. The information learned through team mangers' calls and site visits have helped us to determine our plans for 1996. Here are your most common requests:

In response to your requests, here is what's in the works for 1996:

Fellow visits: In Feburary, Fellows will meet in Berkeley for orientation and training. Later in the month, they will hit the road to your schools. Fellows will be prepared to observe classes and interview stakeholders, conduct workshops, facilitate team meetings, and visit with your students. Your team manager will be in touch with more specifics.

Network-Within-the Network (NWN): If you signed up to be a part of a mini network, or network-within-the-network, fellows and field consultants are the answer to your request. As part of our spring site visits fellows will assist your team in the goals identified in the NWN application. Fellows will visit schools once in the spring and then again in the fall. In addition, we hope to continue this work at the 1996 Summer Institute.

Summer Institute: Speaking of summer institutes, as you may have heard, this year's institute will be in Long Beach, CA, June 29-July 2. Located right on the beach in the lovely Long Beach Convention Center, this summer institute is just a stones throw away from Disneyland (if you throw it really far). Beyond the local attractions, we certainly hope you will attend, as this year we are trying something different-- tying two days of preconference team meetings to a larger national event. This way your team will get the best of both worlds--team time (the most treasured feature of past institutes) and the benefits of great speakers, action labs, case studies and reflection groups lead by the nation's best (our fellows and others). Mark you calendars, start asking for travel money, and get ready for sunny California. We are eager to see you.

Time: We have also heard about the difficulty in finding time to plan and think for both students and teachers! Thus with the permission from the Coalition of Essential School's, we have attached the November 1995 issue of Horace dedicated soley to scheduling. It is an excellent issue which we hope you will find beneficial. In addition, we hope that as Fellows and staff visit your sites, and team managers conduct monthly calls, they can help you work with schedulers to secure common planning time and larger blocks of learning time.

We look forward to working with you in 1996. As always-- we're here to help.

Erika Nielsen Andrew, Project Manager, USN



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