skip to main content

Educational Leadership Doctoral Students Secure $500K Grant for Innovative Remote Academy

Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy (ELAP) doctoral students John Sullivan and Damian Pacheco have received a half million-dollar grant from the New York City Office of Community Schools to fund and implement a unique remote academy program for older high school students.

In Fordham’s Ed.D. program, students complete laboratories of practice, opportunities for applying new learning and theory to complex problems in the field. As part of the laboratory of practice in assistant professor Elizabeth Stosich’s Leading Instructional Improvement class, Sullivan and Pacheco successfully designed and proposed the remote program to serve these students, many of whom entered the workforce during the pandemic and were unable to attend classes in person during the regular school day. These older students were choosing between supporting families and going to school; in some cases they are supporting families in a different country and/or their own children.

Sullivan and Pacheco, superintendent and field support liaison, respectively, of NYC’s Citywide Transfer Schools, noted the 45 transfer schools have a 50% average graduation rate, and that students are allowed to complete high school in six years versus the traditional four. Pacheco shared that when he and Sullivan were approached with the opportunity to apply for remote academy funding because of their work with older students, they jumped at the chance to improve the learning outcomes for these students.

NYC Citywide Transfer Schools superintendent John Sullivan (L) and field support liaison Damian Pacheco (bottom) discuss their remote academy program with Jeanine Genauer.

Stosich remarked, “Two central goals of the Ed.D. program, and in part the design of the laboratories of practice, are to support candidates in bringing their work to the center of their doctoral learning and to make a positive impact in the field. Superintendent Sullivan and Mr. Pacheco’s remote academy is an exemplar for the kind of theory-to-practice connections we hope doctoral candidates will make, and will be a great benefit to NYC youth.”

Sullivan noted that he is “grateful to Fordham Graduate School of Education for the time to use learning to implement real-world work, and excited that Chancellor Banks rethought the city’s approach to supporting older students.” Pacheco added, “Fordham helped me align my work in the Graduate School of Education to my work in schools – our professors have encouraged that and provided guidance. We are grateful for their support and appreciate their belief in our proposal for helping students.”

The laboratory of practice approach assisted the colleagues as they applied to start the new remote academy program because it involved a strategic approach that considered key factors such as student population, identified needs, and budgeting. More specifically, the academy focuses on serving students ages 16-21, including those in temporary housing, by allowing them to continue working while attending a remote school attached to existing schools. Through the academy, students have the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and access virtual counseling.

Ultimately, the NYC Department of Education greatly appreciated the design of the laboratory of practice used for the remote academy proposal and agreed to fund the project with the $500,000 grant. According to Sullivan, the funding for the academy’s work will “help prove whether this kind of program can make a difference in helping overage/under-credited students graduate from high school.” Pacheco added, “Re-engagement of these students, helping them finish their high school educations, is the most important piece of this program; I believe it is replicable and has the potential to succeed in serving many more students like these.”

Initially, 200-300 students will be served, with the capacity to assist up to an expected 1,000 students. A good portion of the academy’s budget is dedicated to devices and internet connection, as not all of the students are well equipped to receive remote learning, job certification program guidance, or virtual services like counseling. Teachers who wish to join the academy will receive remote strategies training on a weekly basis. Some of the academy’s teaching positions will be filled with educators who are already successfully working with over age/under-credited students.


Comments are closed.