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Innovation in Teaching and Learning Fellowship

Newark Academy established a new Innovation in Teaching and Learning Fellowship Program during the 2022-2023 school year. Spearheaded by Director of Studies Jeffrey Vinikoor, the program aims to be an incubator of innovative instructional practices and is designed to support faculty fellows who propose, develop and implement projects seeking to transform the Newark Academy student experience in significant and meaningful ways.

The Innovation in Teaching and Learning Fellowship Program supports up to four fellows annually through $10,000 stipends to support the research, development and implementation of their projects. Faculty members who are awarded a fellowship as a pair will each receive a $5,000 stipend.

By empowering faculty to reimagine instructional practices, essential skills, course content and classroom communities, the fellowship program lives out the school’s mission of aspiring to a standard of excellence, engendering a passion for learning, and fostering a generosity of spirit.

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Jeffrey Vinikoor

    Jeffrey Vinikoor 

    Director of Studies; Dean, Class of 2024

Meet Our Innovation in Teaching and Learning Fellows

Jim Coe & Callie Prince — Upper School Humanities

With Newark Academy’s 250th anniversary on the horizon, Jim and Callie are using the grant to support the school’s commitment to strengthening its connections with Newark, NA’s original home. Their American Experience course curriculum now includes at least one Newark-specific lesson in each unit throughout the year; a field trip to Newark, where artifact analysis offers an opportunity for experiential learning; a visit to the Newark Museum, where students engage in workshops examining African American history and contemporary art and history around Newark; and a course-culminating project that requires each students to correlate a self-selected topic with the history of Newark. 

During the class trip to Newark this year, Jim and Callie also took their students to Harriet Tubman Square to see the original location of Newark Academy, and to Military Park to visit the Wars of America statue. The field trip concluded at the New Jersey Historical Society (NJHS), where students completed a sourcing assignment on New Jersey-related primary sources from the NJHS archives and worked on a propaganda assignment using World War I-era posters.

“We are constantly looking for ways to connect the past to the present in tangible ways to help our students integrate the content and the skills we teach,” Callie says. “This program allowed us to design lessons that highlight meaningful connections between the history we are studying and our origin city.”

Fan Luo — Middle School Language

Knowing that many Middle School students are reluctant to study Mandarin because they are unfamiliar with the language, Fan used her innovation grant to implement experiential learning projects and activities that provide opportunities for students to learn the language in a more comfortable setting, instead of through memorization for assessments. 

For one of the new projects, Mandarin B students read articles and watch authentic videos about the school lives of seventh-grade Chinese students, then participate in extensive discussions and presentations on the similarities and differences to life at NA. For a unit in Fan’s Mandarin C class, students studied a menu from a local dim sum restaurant and practiced ordering food in culturally appropriate ways through writing and performance. The class then went on a field trip to the restaurant, ordered and enjoyed a meal, and wrote subsequent food reviews. To conclude the project, each student designed a menu including key elements of authentic Chinese restaurants.

“This grant was so important to me because it allowed me to restructure my classes to better fit my students’ needs,” Fan says. “While students work on their projects, I’m able to walk around and give individualized feedback. It helps break the old stereotype of a traditional Mandarin class. I’m also a very creative person, and having a platform to do this work helps me use my creative energy in a productive and structured way to enhance my students’ academic experience.”

Scott Rowling — Upper School Mathematics

Scott has used this fellowship to transform his mathematics classes in ways that align with Newark Academy’s emphasis on skills-based learning grounded in relevant content through the Six Cs: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, character and cultural competency. Scott conducted research and implemented a student-centered, problem solving-based curriculum for his Algebra 2 Trigonometry and Precalculus classes, where he acts as a facilitator and coach instead of using the traditional teacher-led and textbook-reliant classroom model.

In Scott’s classes, students work on developing problem-solving skills through open-ended response questions. They become active and engaged learners rather than spending time on memorization and numerous practice problems. Instead of a textbook, each of Scott’s students receives a unit packet with an inquiry-based approach to discovering content. 

“We are creating an academic process that motivates students to think critically and deeply, take ownership of their learning, and develop a positive attitude,” Scott says. “Students at NA show real enthusiasm for learning while maintaining a growth mindset when working in small and large groups.”

Debra Tavares — Middle School Science

A global pandemic, climate change, economic uncertainties, diminishing resources — these crises compelled Deb to use the fellowship grant to equip her sixth-grade science classes with Oculus VR (virtual reality) headsets and accompanying technology to enhance her lessons on sustainability.

Deb’s curriculum consists of several units on sustainability, in which students research sustainable solutions to meet basic human needs, use CAD software design to create their own sustainable cities, and then 3D print their designs. Now, thanks to the Innovation in Teaching and Learning Fellowship, Deb has taken this project to another level: her students can now take virtual tours of the sustainable cities they design, allowing them to visualize new iterations where green spaces can connect with water and air purification, the energy grid and food supplies in cities of the future.

“Advancements in technology and access to knowledge present amazing opportunities for our students to engage in and become leaders in making our communities and our world a better place,” Deb says. “As educators, it is our responsibility to present those opportunities to our students by giving them the tools and skills to unleash their creativity and solve real-world problems. The future of VR tech is now, and my students are thrilled to have it in our classroom.”
Reimagining rigor for students in grades 6-12