L. Mickey Fenzel, Ph.D., associate dean of Loyola University Maryland’s School of Education, has received an Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award in the area of professional studies for Improving Urban Middle Schools: Lessons from the Nativity Schools.
The book stems from Fenzel’s experiences visiting 12 Nativity middle schools in seven cities during a 2003–04 sabbatical. Nativity schools—now part of a larger network of 64 NativityMiguel schools—offer year-round, extended-day programs focused on educating children from low-income, underserved backgrounds. The schools’ class sizes and overall school enrollments are markedly smaller than those of typical public middle schools. Usually operated by religious orders, the Nativity programs focus on attracting teachers with a commitment to social justice, and all hire at least a small number of volunteer or intern teachers. Community volunteers also play roles as tutors and recreation leaders.
Fenzel’s research and the resulting book aimed to uncover the schools’ distinguishing characteristics, as well as take a closer look at their controversial use of volunteer teachers. His work revealed that students’ gains in Nativity model schools, as measured through standardized test scores, significantly exceed those of children in urban parochial and public schools.
Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society of Jesuit colleges and universities, considers books by all faculty and administrators, including emeritus personnel, from Jesuit institutions of higher education. Fenzel’s book was one of four honored in the professional services category from 42 submitted.
Fenzel previously chaired the teacher education department at Loyola, and is now associate dean of the University’s School of Education, the only school in Maryland with a dedicated focus on the advancement of achievement and development of city children and youth that is based on an analytical framework of identity, race, and culture. The School’s mission is rooted in the belief that the enhancement of urban education will lead to an improved quality of life for all who live and work in America’s cities.
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