The Barbara Barnes Initiative
With a grant from the Jack & Dorothy Byrne Foundation and the UVEI Board of Directors, UVEI is launching the Barbara Barnes Initiative for Collaborative Learning. The purpose of the initiative is to bring a network of educators from around the region together each year to understand and design solutions to common educational challenges. This year’s networked improvement research project will focus on deeper learning.
Each year, networked educators will work on a shared design challenge, research the challenge in their setting, consult the research literature related to the challenge, design a prototype solution, pilot and evaluate the design, and publish the results. As important, the project will break down the tendency in the small district environments of Vermont and New Hampshire for teacher leaders and small teams to work in relative isolation rather than leveraging the work and learning across multiple settings.
Like the hub of a wheel, The Barnes Initiative and UVEI faculty plays the role of organizing, coordinating, providing coaching, and providing specialized training to the group members. Additionally, UVEI continues, through our other programs, to provide the leadership and teacher training needed to support the change efforts.
Barbara Ragle Barnes (1923-2018) dedicated her impressive career to improving the quality of education across the Upper Valley, the region, and the country. In 1964, when Barbara was a teacher at the Norwich School, she began a collaboration with two Dartmouth science professors who were also parents of children in the school.
The effort brought together working educators and expert scientists to teach real world, hands-on science in schools, improving science teaching and learning for students through collaboration. Ultimately the project expanded and evolved, leading to the creation of the Upper Valley Educators Institute (UVEI) in 1969, where Barbara twice served as director and where she remained a Board Member Emeritus. Barbara’s career also included time as the Head of School at The Putney School and as an Assistant Dean at Dartmouth College (the first women to hold such a position at the college), among many other roles as an educational leader. At every turn, Barbara sought to bring educators together and make their growth the centerpiece of educational improvement.
From these roots, and for more than 50 years, UVEI has been partnering with schools and school districts across the region, working to bring together and develop new teachers, experienced teachers, teacher leaders, and school leaders. Believing that great teachers and great leaders are the heart of great schools, and in the spirit of Barbara’s ability to look at educational challenges as opportunities for people to learn and grow together, we launch the Barbara Barnes Initiative for Collaborative Learning.