CSI Launches Verrazano School: Expands Successful Learning Communities Model

The College of Staten Island (CSI) of The City University of New York (CUNY) will launch a pilot class of “The Verrazano School at CSI” when spring classes begin on January 29. The School is the latest step toward the ongoing advancement of the College, and joins other innovations such as CSI’s participation in CUNY’s William E. Macaulay Honors College, the opening of the CSI High School for International Studies, and the establishment of a center for engineered polymeric materials.

The Verrazano School represents yet another opportunity for well-prepared incoming CSI students to achieve academic and career success, as it provides them with unique benefits like convenient and flexible class schedules, priority registration, and the chance to study alongside academically motivated peers. Full-time faculty will teach the majority of classes, there will also be specialized mentoring, advisement, and career sessions, and students will receive recognition at the College’s Commencement ceremony and by annotation on students’ transcripts.

“The Verrazano School addresses the objective of attracting better-prepared students to the College, which is one of the cornerstones of CSI’s Strategic Plan, 2006-2011. The School will provide its students with the necessary resources to succeed, not only at CSI, but also in graduate school and in their careers. Staten Island will benefit as these graduates move into the world of work and effect positive change in the community,” commented Dr. David Podell, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at CSI.

Requirements for admission to The Verrazano School include a strong high school grade point average, a proven record of academic excellence, high SAT scores, and successful completion of or exemption from the CUNY Basic Skills Assessment Exams.

The Verrazano School has chosen students for its pilot class of 200 from the College’s Learning Communities program, which the College developed in 2003 to assist academically strong students in the transition from high school to college. Students in the Learning Communities receive instruction in cohorts (groups of students who attend blocks of classes together) building on cooperative relationships with peers to ensure academic achievement.

Verrazano School students will begin their programs in Learning Communities and will then have the option of selecting from between 18 and 20 Verrazano School-specific course sections per semester. Although they are required to take at least two of these sections each semester, Verrazon students may also elect to take other ““non-Verrazaon sections, as their majors require.

CSI will recruit new Verrazano School students for the fall 2007 semester and beyond from among newly admitted freshmen who meet the admission requirements, and accept 200 students per year. Many of these students will also be eligible for Peter F. Vallone Academic Scholarship funding to offset the cost of tuition, because Vallone Scholarships are available to students who have demonstrated academic excellence in high school.

Danielle Bergman, who entered CSI as part of the college’s FIRST program, is currently working as a mentor with the program transitioning students in The Verrazano School. She says the new Verrazano School provides an excellent environment with dedicated services and staff to further assist with the transition from high school into the challenging academic setting of college.

“I feel that the Verrazano School gives the students a sense of belonging at CSI,” commented Bergman, adding, “This connection is extremely important and will influence their pride in CSI, as well as their grades. Extending and continuing this sense of belonging to CSI is extremely beneficial for these students and necessary in their freshman year of college.”

It gives the students a sense of belonging, and that connection is extremely important and this will increase the students pride and its necessary their freshman year.

Verrazano School students will benefit from unique educational opportunities, but according to Podell, they will also gain an advantage as they compete for placement in graduate schools after they receive their degrees from CSI.

“As a result of the specially designed and academically rigorous instruction that they receive, students who graduate from The Verrazano School will have the experience and credentials necessary for admission to the nation’s top graduate schools,” Podell commented.

The College of Staten Island is a senior college of The City University of New York, the nation’s leading urban university. CSI offers 35 academic programs, 15 graduate degree programs, and challenging doctoral programs to 12,000 students.

The 204-acre landscaped campus of CSI, the largest in NYC, is fully accessible and contains an advanced, networked infrastructure to support technology-based teaching, learning, and research. For more information, visit www.csi.cuny.edu.

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