Dr. Timothy Ireland, Niagara University's interim provost, signs a memorandum of understanding with Mark R. Laurrie, superintendent of the Niagara Falls City School District, and Paul J. Casseri, superintendent of Lewiston-Porter Central Schools.

A memorandum of understanding signed today formalized longstanding partnerships between Niagara University and the Niagara Falls and Lewiston-Porter school districts.

Dr. Timothy Ireland, NU’s interim provost, signed the MOUs with Mark R. Laurrie and Paul J. Casseri, the superintendents for the Niagara Falls and Lew-Port school districts, respectively.

Niagara University will be signing a similar agreement in the very near future with the Niagara Wheatfield Central School District.

Facilitation of the agreements on the university’s campus is undertaken by Dr. Chandra Foote, dean of NU’s College of Education.

Broadly speaking, the collaborations are intended to positively impact P-12 student learning, especially for those in greatest need, by improving the quality of teaching, support services and school leadership for pre-service, novice and veteran educators.

“The long-term success of our society depends on the effective education of today’s youth,” noted Dr. Ireland. “By leveraging the collective resources of the university and our neighboring P-12 school districts, we know that we can significantly enhance the learning and life opportunities for children in our local community.”

As a means of improving the quality of education delivered to students, NU’s College of Education will continue to work with the school districts to prepare pre-service teachers, support teachers and educational leaders in a professional, practical and collegial environment; maintain and enhance the professional knowledge and skills of faculty and staff through shared exchanges of expertise; and assess, evaluate and disseminate the results of the work completed through the collaborations for the purpose of improving the relationship and the larger field of education.

Niagara University’s College of Education has developed numerous partnerships over the years with schools across the region through its innovative Institute of Applied Learning. The institute implements activities in partnership with faculty in the College of Education, the College of Arts and Sciences, and local school districts, bringing research-based methodology to the classroom through ongoing, sustainable initiatives.

NU’s College of Education is also home to the Family Literacy Center, which allows graduate students to demonstrate their teaching acumen while enhancing the literacy performance of at-risk readers and their families.

In addition, the university is the first institution of higher education in the country to serve as a Help Me Grow (HMG) organizing entity. HMG is designed to mitigate the effects of poverty through early identification and referral of children at risk for developmental and behavioral problems.

Finally, the College of Education offers undergraduate and graduate programs in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Data illustrate a demand for teachers who can communicate with the growing population of English language learners in the region. Addressing this area of need is, therefore, included in the university’s MOU with the Niagara Falls City School District.

“We are very pleased to formalize and, in the process, expand our mutually beneficial relationships with these school districts,” said Dr. Foote. “Together, we are committed to collaborating to achieve the mutual goals aligned to our respective missions.”

In February, Niagara University’s 20-year collaboration with the Niagara Falls City School District was recognized with the Model of Excellence Award from the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education.