Working and studying at the University of Rochester is an exceptional privilege that more often than not comes to those with strong backgrounds in elementary and high school education. The Biology Department is expanding our education mission to various demographics of the greater Rochester community, with a special focus on communities where grade school performance is lagging.
A major departmental objective going forward is to integrate our efforts into a coordinated outreach mission that supports first generation and/or low-income Rochester School District students beginning as early as elementary school with the goal of gaining admission into college. Other efforts are aimed at enriching educational opportunities for suburban schools and the lay public in the greater Rochester community.
For more information about community outreach contact:
Jenn Baylark, Outreach Coordinator
Department of Biology
487 Hutchison Hall
Rochester, New York 14627
We are instituting multiple programs at School 58 (K–12) to support and encourage first-generation and/or low-income students to set college admission as an achievable goal. This mission is made easier by preexisting outreach agreements between The David T. Kearns Center at the University of Rochester and Rochester City High Schools. Our current focus is on enriching the educational experience of middle and high school students, including in-class presentations by biology faculty and graduate students, supporting High School AP Biology Laboratories, visits to the Rochester campus for lab demonstrations, and tutoring programs.
Computer programming skills are increasingly perceived as an asset for students interested in the sciences, humanities, and the arts. Many local suburban and city schools do not offer programming courses, possibly because many teachers lack expertise. Beginning with the 2013–2014 academic year the biology department began sponsoring a pilot Computer Programming Club at Honeoye Falls-Lima High School. The club involved about 15 high school students who come to learn programming basics, new languages, apps, gaming, website construction and software development. The HF-L Programming Club meets every Friday afternoon.
Since 2009, local experts and faculty from the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology have presented more than 30 topics covering all aspects of science and engineering. For presenting faculty members, the cafés provide an opportunity for the speakers to share their passion with a general lay audience. Science cafés are not lectures; rather they are highly interactive conversations. The cafés are held on the fourth Tuesday of the month (excluding December) during the academic year at Barnes and Noble Booksellers on Monroe Avenue in Pittsford. Schedule and information about the cafés can be found at sciencecaferochester.blogspot.com.
In the fall of 2014, the University of Rochester accepted ten Posse Scholars from the Washington, D.C. area as incoming freshman. The “Posse Program” is one of the most comprehensive and renowned college access and youth leadership development programs in the United States. Students are recruited into the program from high schools that are usually overlooked by traditional college recruitment programs, on the grounds that “Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not”. Our ten Posse Scholars received a merit-based leadership award for four years of support.
Dr. Terry Platt, Past Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics, and of Biology, and Faculty Co-Director for the Center for Workshop Education in CETL, was chosen last winter to be their Posse Mentor, supporting them to be successful through their first two years here at the University of Rochester. As a Posse Mentor, Terry meets with the students weekly, both individually and as a group, helps address their concerns about academic, extracurricular, social and career issues, and how to use the University’s resources, both formal and informal, to integrate them into the college community in ways that optimize the effectiveness of their talents and passions.
The University of Rochester has committed to continuing this program for at least five years. The goal is to sustain approximately forty Posse Scholars on campus. Over the twenty-five year history of Posse (the founder, Deborah Bial, received a MacArthur “Genius Grant” in 2007), participation has grown to over 50 colleges and universities, some of which accept 2 or more Posses per year (each from a different city). The college graduation rate for the 5,500 past and current Posse Scholars is an outstanding 90%. Many Posse Scholar graduates occupy positions of local and national prominence in business, education, health care, law, non-profit, and government organizations.