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Mission Statement
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  Mission Statement  

“There is no happiness where there is no wisdom.”
—Sophocles, Antigone

1. Mission Statement

The Examined Life program is a growing consortium of school districts aimed at strengthening Greek studies in the schools. The program’s goals include professional scholarship, development of curriculum materials, and a community outreach on the history, culture, and accomplishments of ancient and modern Greece. The program takes as its theme the Socratic call to the examined life. As we enter the 21st century it asks participants to explore what it means to be human through the lens of Greek antiquity.

The Greek Studies proposal rises from the recognition that Greece's central importance in the curriculum is being challenged and marginalized in the growing amalgam of recommended subjects. Although there has been a commitment in recent years to the topic “peoples of the ancient world,” the powerful legacy of Greece is at times taught superficially or from outdated texts and materials. In addition, scant attention is paid to modern Greece in the curriculum yet Greece’s legacy continues in the arts and humanities as well as in mathematics and the sciences.

The program supports groups of teachers and administrators (20 per year) called Greek Study Fellows to meet regularly with outside scholars in a series of seminars. The program encompasses seminars, workshops, and ongoing discussions of ways to integrate knowledge and teaching; it also includes a study tour of Greece; it insures, on the completion of the project period, the continuation of professional development activities in the realm of Greek antiquity. In conjunction with the program, the teachers create a pool of sources for the teaching of ancient Greece including websites, books, maps, slides, videotapes. After the project period, Greek Study Fellows make themselves available as leaders and mentors in school systems in New England and elsewhere.

Rooted in the pathfinding efforts of Barbara Harrison, Newton teacher, and a small corps of Newton educators and Brandeis University professors, the program has broadened from one school district to include a consortium of school districts. The program is gaining in visibility and momentum. The first cohort of Greek Study Fellows (1999-2000), completed its formal tenure in December 2000; Cohort 7 (2005-2006) starts its tenure in January 2006.

Administered by the Newton Public Schools in cooperation with Brandeis University, the program is steeped in scholarship and academic fervor to enhance current teaching, curriculum, and outreach; but also in great passion for Greece and a desire to spread philhellenism in ever widening circles in the United States. Currently 120 Greek Study Fellows carry forth the glorious and indomitable Greek spirit--ancient and modern--to the public sector, to schools and school districts, to teachers and their students. In December 2006, at the end of Cycle 7, 140 teachers in 12 school districts will directly impact over 10,000 children, and thousands more indirectly.

In 1999, the program’s inaugural year, one (1) school district, the Newton Public Schools, participated. In 2006, our seventh year, twelve (12) districts will participate. The program is reaching increasing numbers of schools (45), teachers (140), and students (apprx 10,000).

2. Objectives and Activities

FIRST: Professional Development (course + study tour)


Greek Study Fellows meet regularly with outside scholars in a graduate course taught on Saturdays and late afternoons during the school year. Each of the course sessions focuses on a work of Greek literature, history, or philosophy. In lectures, scholars unfold the meaning of the text(s) and bring to participants deep understanding and fresh perspectives on ancient and modern Greece. Greek Study Fellows examine the text(s) more closely during text-centered discussions and explore how ancient Greek concerns resonate even to this day. Topics for these “then and now” discussions include the meaning of life, the fear of death, youth versus old age, the metaphor of the journey. In addition, teachers hold ongoing discussions related to interdisciplinary concerns and implications for the classroom. The combined efforts of the speakers and the Greek Study Fellows illuminate what ancient Greek civilization tells us about the nature and value of “the examined life” as the Greeks understood it and as we interpret it today.

Study Tour

Integrated into the professional development sequence is the Greek Study Tour which provides for two weeks of study of sites featured in the texts read during the course. On the tour of Greece, teachers are called upon to be active participants, sharing knowledge with each other, and coleading seminars with the project humanist. The project humanist guides teachers in integrating subject matter and in making interdisciplinary connections and associations; and in comprehending the historic, mythological, artistic, and religious significance of the setting. Also on board is a Greek-speaking guide.

THEN: Curriculum Development (direct result of course + study tour)

Greek Study Fellows work with the university professor, program director, and teacher specialist to create materials and resources in support of instruction in the classroom. The curriculum projects are made available to others in comprehensive Resource Manuals and circulating capsule libraries. Greek Study Fellows have developed curricula on such topics as Ancient Greek Philosophy; Images of the Trojan War in Art; a Hyperstudio Project on Homer’s Odyssey; Ancient Greek Vases and Pottery, and Recreating Minoan Murals on School Walls.

LEADING TO: Dissemination and Outreach (direct outcome of course, study tour, curriculum development)

Dissemination and outreach will take place primarily through the creation of a teacher and scholar corps of leaders; the corps will serve as mentors for others, through the development and implementation of workshops, talks and presentations. Teacher leaders will open their classrooms for observations by others. University scholars will make presentations in classrooms. Aspects of the program will be made available on videotape and website. Curriculum packets and CDs will be created and a library of books and bibliographies and sources will facilitate the ability of leaders to share and disseminate information and sources. An annual festschrift workshop will be held in which projects are presented to a regional constituency. The Greek Studies program aims to develop partnerships with schools and colleges in Greece; and to facilitate communication on a national level by creating a network of teachers and programs, and to encourage the duplication of the program in various regions of the United States.

3. Consortium Makeup and Governance

The Greek Studies Program consists of a growing consortium of Massachusetts school districts and Brandeis University. Each year the program enlarges its constituency of school districts. The program is governed by an administrative team that includes the project director, project humanist, teacher specialist and liaison with school districts, and chief project administrator. The team coordinates and implements the program and serves as a think tank for the program, continuously assessing, evaluating, considering ways of perpetuating the program through time. Designated individuals (heads of professional development in participating school systems) serve as advisors to the administrative committee. The Newton Public Schools is the fiscal agent for the project.

4. Project Impact and Evaluation

The kinds of impact sought include (1) the acquisition of knowledge (measured at least in part by questionnaires and assessments; for example, Greek Study Fellows will be asked to ascertain their level of confidence in terms of knowledge of ancient and modern Greek civilization before and after the program; and their level of confidence in discussing humanities themes with each other and with their students); (2) the development of curriculum (evidenced by high-quality, “publishable” units of study, reproducible for use by others); (3) the development of resources (evidenced by professionally created graphics, capsule libraries of books for children and adults, CDs, videos, maps, artifacts, bibliographies); (4) the creation of a teacher/scholar corps of leaders that will serve as mentors and will give talks and presentations at workshops and in classrooms (impact to be measured by evaluations); an annual ITHAKA workshop in which materials are presented to teachers of participating schools and invited guests. Impact testimony will be requested in interviews, questionnaires, and narrative evaluations. Greek Fellows will be asked to discuss insights into themselves and their times that result from their participation in the program. They will be asked to comment on the merit of bringing teachers together with scholars from colleges and universities. In all cases impact will be assessed in measurable, observable ways.

An outside evaluator will participate in a formative evaluation of the program’s success and effectiveness throughout the project, and prepare interim and final evaluation reports for the administrative committee and for the school systems and funding institutions.

5. Brief Job Descriptions of Administrative Team

Program Director

Barbara Harrison, PhD, educator and author, Newton Public Schools, serves as program director. Ms. Harrison assumes responsibility for the administration of the Greek Study Program, for the vision, growth, and development of the program (course work, study tour, curriuculum, followup, dissemination, and outreach); she serves as liaison with school systems; she oversees program requirements, and application processes, the development and implementation teacher/scholar corps of leaders, capsule libraries, culminating Ithaka workshop, the writing and dissemination of curricula, and project evaluation. She assumes the overall responsibility for the success of the program.

Ms. Harrison is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College where she taught both undergraduate and graduate courses and held the rank of associate professor. She is coeditor with Gregory Maguire of Innocence and Experience: Essays and Conversations on Children's Literature (Lothrop 1987) and Origins of Story (McElderry 1999), and is author of reviews and essays on reading, literature, and contemporary society published in Commonweal, The Horn Book Magazine, and The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress. She is also author with Daniel Terris of the biographies for children and young adults, A Twilight Struggle: The Life of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (Morrow 1992) and A Ripple of Hope: The Life of Robert F. Kennedy (Delacorte 1998). She is the author of a children's novel, Theo, about the impact of World War II on Greece (Clarion 1999).

Project Humanist

Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow, PhD, participates in all aspects of the program; she assumes the responsibility for the development and implementation of the course seminars; she serves as liaison with scholars, participates in opening welcome and closing synthesis and takes lead role on museum tours and study tour of Greece; she develops the course (seminars), attends each seminar, introduces speakers and coordinates and synthesizes the program’s academic component; she also coordinates scholar aspect of teacher/scholar leadership corps; and speaks on behalf of the program at professional meetings.

Dr. Koloski-Ostrow is Chair of the Department of Classical Studies at Brandeis University where she teaches courses in Latin, ancient literature in translation, and Greek and Roman art and archaeology. In 1988 she was the winner of the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching. She was a Fellow at the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College during 1994-95. In 1997 she was awarded the Louis Perlmutter Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Research at Brandeis. For the academic year 1997-98 she was winner of a national teaching award from the American Philological Association. During the academic year 2001-2002, she was a Senior Research Fellow at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She has published a book on a bathing complex at Pompeii, The Sarno Bath Complex: Architecture in Pompeii's Last Years (Rome, 1990) and reviews and articles on a variety of topics in Roman social history and archaeology. She is both co-editor of and contributor to Naked Truths: Women, Sexuality, and Gender in Classical Art and Archaeology (London, 1997 and 2000). She is the sole editor of and a contributor to Water Use and Hydraulics in the Roman City, which was published in January, 2001, by the Archaeological Institute of America. She is currently writing The Archaeology of Sanitation in Roman Italy: Water, Sewers, and Latrines, which is forthcoming from University of North Carolina Press. This latest book focuses on ancient urban sanitation, urban infrastructures, Roman baths, water supply, and in particular, on Roman public latrines.

Teacher Specialist and Liaison with School Districts

Constance Carven, MEd, educator, Newton Public Schools, serves as teacher specialist and liaison with school districts, available as a consultant throughout the project. She serves as liaison with teachers and takes a lead role in the pedagogical component of seminar sessions, study tours, workshops, and the culminating colloquium.

A master teacher of English and social studies, Ms. Carven taught ancient Greece to children for ten years. She was a faculty advisor for the award-winning school literary-art magazine the Minotaur; has served as a mentor for new teachers and supervisor of student teachers. Ms. Carven is author of interdisciplinary curriculum in the humanities and sciences. She has served as advisor to faculty as well as student publications, and contributes regularly to system-wide committees on the professional development of teachers and on curriculum frameworks and implementation. An agent of change, Ms. Carven possesses remarkable interpersonal and community-building skills; she has a deep understanding of content, children, and the nature of the learning process, and brings to The Examined Life an informed and humane sensibility.

Chief Project Administrator

Judith Malone-Neville, PhD, former assistant superintendent of schools, Newton, serves as the chief program administrator. She is the liaison with the administrative council (superintendent, assistant superintendents, principals) of the Newton Public Schools and other participating school districts; she serves as a spokesperson for the program, and recruits individuals and school district participation.

Dr. Malone-Neville holds an undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. from Brandeis University. She is a former housemaster at Newton South High School where she taught English for several years. She has also taught in Attleboro, MA and Providence, RI.

She makes frequent presentations to parent and professional audiences on a broad range of educational topics including educational administration and the professional development of teachers.

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