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Good evening welcome to black perspectives. A 25 minute weekly feature focusing on black issues information on Lifestyles of the communities of Boston in the song. Sure. My name is Charles Desmond you know host for our black perspectives. Tonight we'll be talking with Miss Joan Bakker who is directing the urban Scholars Program at the University of Massachusetts at Boston an innovative and creative program that's being run at UMass concerning talented and gifted students. Joan I'm very glad that you were able to join us tonight to talk a little bit about this program. Everyone at UMass is excited about this initiative and I think the best place to start is if you could just give us a little scenario an overview of what urban scholars is all about and what you're trying to do with the program. OK. Thank you Charlie. Urban scholars is a brand new program here at UMass Boston and urban scholars was created who are talented and gifted students in the Boston public schools. Right now we're working with three the Boston public high schools South Boston High
Dorchester high and German high school. And what we're trying to do in our urban scholars is to identify students in these three schools who we feel have demonstrated exceptional potential for success primarily in academic subjects although we're also looking for students who have demonstrated talents in leadership the arts and community involvement. The students this past summer came to the university for a 10 week program. Six weeks of academics and a four week career internship. And this fall the students are participating in an afterschool program. Right now they're taking a course in research skills and they have a career awareness program and college counseling. Let me ask the question when you're talking about talented and gifted students one would think that that such students might not need the support and assistance of people in colleges and universities UMass Boston seems to be taking on a direction that a lot of other colleges are not pursuing and that is
that involving itself with talented and gifted students now. Why is this and what's the logical theory behind that idea or that approach. I think that people assume with. Talented and gifted students that they'll make it without involvement from other people. And in a sense they'll make it but where will they make it to. I think that's the question that we're trying to look at. We all know that in the Boston Public Schools there are certain problems and particularly in the district school the three schools that we're working with right now are district school. And there is presently no specialized programming for talented a gifted student in the three schools. The students are in classes where they're not being pushed to their limit. And what we as a university are saying is that the university by nature of it its research facilities the quality of its faculty and its
resources can become involved with these students who have good skills who are bright who can do things and push them farther than they're presently being pushed. These students have the potential to become leaders in our society. They have the potential to become. Doctors lawyers get Ph.D.s and their present school situations are challenging them to do those kinds of things and we feel that here at the University we can do that we can push them to do those kinds of things. Well it seems as though to me that that overall idea of the linkage between the secondary school and the post-secondary in. Post-secondary institution is a good idea and one that perhaps has a potential to to do some things very progressive in the future. Let me ask you another question that's related to the implementation of the program. What kinds of reactions and responses have you received from the people in the secondary
schools and how have the students themselves responded to this. Pilot program that you've had this year just carried out the response of the people in the schools has been overwhelmingly supportive. Most of the school personnel have said it's about time. The university got involved in programming for the talented and gifted students. They feel that they are equipped to do that kind of programming right now. They don't have the resources they don't have the staff time and they see students who are in classes who they would like to spend more time with who they would like to challenge further. And they can't. And so they are saying to us great what can we do to help you. Can we do more. And so that the personnel in the secondary schools are very supportive. The students themselves are very supportive. They keep saying we want more we want more classes we want more things. It's about again it's about
time somebody got involved. And I think the other thing that the students have said the two of the things that they have really said it's struck me is number one they're very. They're worried they know that they want to go to college they know they want to pursue higher education but they don't feel that they're prepared. They don't feel that. They've got the proper skills or. Information to get where they want to go and they look to us to provide those kinds of things. So they say to to us we want you to teach us how to write papers we want you to teach us how to do research. We want you to teach us how to study. And so they. Looked to us to provide those kinds of things. The other thing that they. Have said that I find. Interesting is that you. Know they say nobody ever told me I was smart before. Nobody ever told me that I could go to graduate school or that I could be a leader.
But because of my involvement in urban scholars I'm beginning to believe that I can and I do see that hey I do have some talents. And yeah I can do some things. And so that they begin their self-concept is changing and they're beginning to see themselves as being able to do new things and. Because they were already motivated they're going even farther. Well I mean I think that that's very encouraging to know that the people the secondary school personnel have adopted the concept of the urban Scholars Program and that the students themselves seem to be benefiting from it. Let me. The question that as you were talking that was coming into my mind involved involves the question of how the schools. The relationship between the school the school personnel and the urban Scholars Program does it go any further. Then they're just sort of opening their doors to let to let students participate in a program is there any plans to involve the
secondary school personnel themselves directly and doing work in the urban Scholars Program. Are any of the university professors It is an hour in the future or are you planning to get them on to the secondary school. Sites so that we have more of an interaction and interface between the two communities of scholars at the secondary level in the post-secondary level. I think that the answer to your question is certainly that yes presently as you mentioned before we're in the pilot phase and as we begin to think about what makes sense long term one of the things it's very important to us is to begin to develop ways in which the secondary school personnel and the university faculty can work together some of the ideas that we have around that are to pair University faculty and secondary school teachers and have them in a sense team teach a second university faculty member
might be released for semester to teach in the secondary school and the secondary school teacher would be released for a semester to teach at the university or to work with the faculty member in teaching the classes. These are some of the ideas Another idea is to have. Faculty members go to the secondary schools and do lectures have a lecture series that the faculty members here at the university would take into the schools. We also would like to utilize some of the other resources of the university. Some of the resources around the theater groups on campus. Student groups where they could go and do a theatre production of musical production and assembly for the students in the school. Well I think that that ideally has to meet again tremendous potential in the future. Before going on however I'd like to tell my listening audience that listening to FM at the University of Massachusetts at
Boston. This is black perspectives and I'm your host Charles Desmond and tonight we're talking with Joan Bakker was one of the directors of the University of Massachusetts urban Scholars Program. To pursue further the question of secondary school. It seems as though to me that especially when we read about the Boston public school in the newspapers particularly in the last decade most of the attention has been on. The court ordered busing problems in the schools. The crime and the school violence in the school. Very little attention very little that I have read has pointed to anything positive that's happening in the schools it seems as though that the urban Scholars Program is saying that there are some good things going on in the school. And I'd like to know. You said before that the students have. Their expectations and perceptions about themselves must be affected by these images that seem to be created every day in the
newspapers and I'm wondering if you think that urban school is in any way can help to shape our help to the thinking of the public and the students themselves about some of the good things that are going on in the secondary schools in Boston. Yeah I agree with you wholeheartedly I think that. The secondary schools have gotten a lot of bad publicity and one of the really delightful things that I found when we first went to the schools with the urban Scholars Program was that there are a lot of positive things going on there are some very excellent teachers in the schools and there are some there are a number of very very talented students in the schools and no one seems to be recognizing them for their talents and I think one of my responsibilities in urban scholars is to devise ways to recognize and to publicize the positive things that are happening in those schools because it does affect the students when they say to other people will I go to the Jeremih high school and people
that's terrible is it. You must be afraid to go to school. And the student doesn't feel afraid to go to school they feel that they feel very positive about their school and they do feel part of it as a community. And. That. Positive. Aspect of the school doesn't get talked about and I think that we need to begin a dialogue with the people in the schools about how we can best publicize what they're doing it's positive because I think it's one of things I've noticed is that the students do feel a part of a community within their schools and that's something that. A lot of media attention hasn't been focused on the media tends to develop an image that says that there are a bunch of disaffected individuals going to this school that don't ever talk to each other and that's not true. And I'm a pretty pretty broad cast discussion. You were there we talked about. The placements the career exposures and opportunities that these
students had. During the summer. And it was. Interesting to note that many of the people the places where students were placed were very surprised and excited about how well-prepared many of these students were and how effective that they were in their jobs and I thought that that might be. Good for a listening audience to hear a little bit about some of the experiences that the students had and some of the feedback that you've gotten on their participation in the in the work site. Certainly said this past summer as part of the 10 week program. Each student was placed in a career internship for four weeks and Monday through Thursday the students went to a job site and then on Fridays they came back here to the university share their experiences with each other. And as we were developing the internship placements for the students we initially met with some resistance on the part
of companies and organizations. A lot of people said well we have a policy we don't hire high school students in general we don't take high school students on as interns. And we said well we feel that these students are very mature they have very good skills and we'd like you to take a risk with them. We'd like you to believe in our assessment of them. And overwhelmingly the job supervisors. At the end of the four weeks at the end of the first week even said these students are wonderful they're better than my college interns. I mean it was very interesting they found that college interns tend to tended to spend a lot of time socializing and weren't interested in learning about the organization as is their primary reason for being there. And they found that the urban scholar student had a purpose for being on the work site and really put a lot of time into it a lot of thoughtful time and asked questions and really tried to learn about what's what is this organization about and what are the different kinds of jobs that are
available and what kind of education do I need if I want to get a job like that. Some of the companies that we worked with this summer were we had a student placed in Senator Paul Tsongas office. We had a couple of students at Digital a student at Honeywell. One student worked in the Boston school department administration and finance some of the students worked here at the university. And we had some students working in institutional planning the. Mass media here at UMass. Education telecommunications to name a few. The students obviously were able to communicate to the people that they work with that they were interested in learning that they were competent that they know how to carry a sponsibility in a professional manner and I think that also again points to the underlying assumption that's so positive about the program. And that is that there are some good things going on in the public schools. We should take
some time to reinforce and assist the public schools in marketing better and in building upon our improving upon an already good product. Let me shift gears a little bit now and see if we can talk a little bit about the future for the program. I know that you were explaining on expanding the program and adding new dimensions to the urban initiative and I'd like to let our listening public know that. Primarily because I think that all of us as we look at our own high school where we have children going to school perhaps to school where some of us may be working ourselves have to think more creatively about things that we can do in our schools to make them more exciting and more vibrant places for the young people who are attending them. So I think that people can learn something and perhaps want to emulate some of the activities that we're carrying out here at UMass Boston with their program. So the future for urban scholars as well.
I think that the future for urban scholars is very bright I think that really the limit to urban scholars is our own creativity the creativity of the university. I think that sort of. Short term future for the program. We're thinking that the next. Phase the next sort of level that we need to consider is students who have talents in the area of the arts. And as we begin to think about that I think that. The kinds of programming that you do for a student who is artistically talent talented is a little bit different but not radically different than the kind of programming that you would do for a student who is academically talented. I think that the way that you identify an artistically talented student is a little bit different. As we begin the discussions about how we develop an arts component we want to begin. Discussing this question with other universities and with other
groups in the city of Boston who have expertise in this area. And I think the key thing to urban scholars is that each university and different organizations have different areas of expertise. And one of the things that urban scholars can do is can bring all of these resources to bear on the public schools. For example we might over the long term be able to develop a kind of a consortium that would. Involve other colleges and universities. You were mentioning the question a consortium of colleges working together and with trying to develop the various expertise and linkages with. Area high schools and other colleges. I think that what I was saying was that I think that that kind of a network of colleges could. Serve the schools Well you would have a student who might go to South Boston High who was interested in the art arts who is talented in the arts who would be in the UMass
Boston urban Scholars program but could take advantage of programs and activities at a place like the mass College of Art for example. I think that those kinds of linkages would enhance the quality of education for not only the students in the urban Scholars program but I think one of the more. Important ramifications of urban scholars that we haven't touched on is. The question of improving the quality of education for students in those schools and I think that one of the things that we want to do is develop ways that the students who are involved in urban scholars can take their learning and their knowledge back into their schools one of things that we're doing this fall is we have the students participating in a college counseling seminar. And the juniors who are participating in this seminar. Their project is to put together a booklet on applying to college that will be disseminated to all students
in the three schools. And I think that those kinds of things where the urban scholars students. Take back their new learning. Improves the quality of education for all students. And I think that. Linking up with other colleges and universities can only produce good results. Future number of activities on the horizon that look good for the school working. Let me ask you one question. I think it's probably the most important one and that is what do the students do after they leave the program. You are in fact assisting them in finding appropriate colleges where they can. Build even further upon the excellent skill development work that you're doing. You know other colleges.
Do you think other colleges will be willing to to get involved in that particular aspect of a place. I think that yes other colleges are very interested in becoming involved in the college placement aspect discussions that I have had with it missions officers at area colleges and universities. They're very excited about a program like urban scholars because they would like to get more students from the Boston Public School and they have not. I found good ways to do that they have not been very successful about doing that and I think that we certainly have students who could be placed in Boston area school I think the other important thing is that the university has committed itself to accepting any urban scholars student to the University of Massachusetts at Boston. If that's where they choose to come in I think that's an important point to be made because it shows a commitment on the part of the university to these students so that if a
student does want to come to you Miss they will be able to come. And I think that those kinds of things are counseling of the students to make them aware of the different schools that are around to help them decide what's the most appropriate school. And the university's commitment to them if they want to come here. I do want to say that this has been a very interesting discussion I think that every parent that has a student in high school should or should listen carefully and then reflect. On some of your statements in the rules that colleges and universities can play in in their programming for their children and I want to thank you again for coming on our show and sharing thank you you're having the insights with me. I'd like to tell my listening audience that you've been listening tonight to blackest perspectives. We want you to listen again next week to our show and we will have another exciting guest on who'll be discussing something of. Great importance to all of us. Our show tonight has been produced and directed by
Black Perspectives
Urban Scholars Program
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WUMB (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Episode Description
Joan Becker of the University of Massachusetts-Boston discusses the Urban Scholars Program intended to challenge talented and gifted students in public high schools in Boston.
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Black Perspectives is a public affairs talk show featuring in depth conversations about issues of interest to the African American community.
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Copyright Holder: WUMB-FM
Guest: Becker, Joan
Host: Desmond, Charles
Producer: Pierre Louis, Gary
Producing Organization: WUMB
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: BP23-1983 (WUMB)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Generation: Original
Duration: 00:30:00?
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Chicago: “Black Perspectives; Urban Scholars Program,” 1983-10-14, WUMB, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 30, 2022,
MLA: “Black Perspectives; Urban Scholars Program.” 1983-10-14. WUMB, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 30, 2022. <>.
APA: Black Perspectives; Urban Scholars Program. Boston, MA: WUMB, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from