Lessons Learned From Partnerships

Faculty members publish book on collaborations

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

When an idea works as well as the Gardner Elementary School extended services program does, itís easy to wonder why it hadnít been done before, say Graduate School of Social Work Field Education Director Robbie Tourse and Assoc. Prof. Jean Mooney (LSOE).

But establishing a program that helps studentsí families as well as the students themselves required an almost unprecedented reach across disciplines, from education to pastoral ministry. Mooney and Tourse illustrate this blending of professions and backgrounds in the recent book, Collaborative Practice: School and Human Service Partnerships.

Serving as editors, Mooney and Tourse invited colleagues from BC and other institutions to contribute chapters offering their perspectives on extended services program collaborations. The result is a compendium of professional experience and reflection, on topics such as the legal aspects of extended services programs, ethical questions of collaborative practice and evaluating the performance of school-community partnerships.

"Ultimately, the book - and the project - is about trying to reshape professional education," said Mooney, who also co-wrote chapters for the book, as did Tourse. "In academia, weíve tended to engage in parallel play, doing our own thing instead of trying to develop a comprehensive, integrated approach."

"Weíve focused on practice, rather than theory, in the book," added Tourse, "because the education these professionals receive doesnít all take place in the classroom. Working in an extended services program with the students and families, as well as other professionals, requires you to move beyond the traditional framework."

Some material in the book derives from BCís participation in a multi-university project, coordinated by Fordham University and funded by the DeWitt Wallace-Readerís Digest Foundation, to examine multidisciplinary support for vulnerable children. BCís own work in the Allston-Brighton public schools, which also is noted in the book, eventually resulted in funding from DeWitt Wallace-Readerís Digest to formalize the Gardner School partnership.

Robbie Tourse (left) and Jean Mooney. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Under the program, the school extends its hours of operation to provide academic instruction with various opportunities for career exploration and personal enrichment. Family support services such as legal assistance, job counseling, health services, computer training and English as a Second Language classes also are offered through Gardner. BC places graduate research assistants at the school to assist in providing some of the services, as well as to evaluate the projectís development.

Tourse and Mooney emphasize that Collaborative Practice is not intended to provide a definitive model for implementing extended services programs at the local level.

"The book was conceived from the perspective of a ëhumble beginning,í" explained Mooney. "We wanted to describe the challenge of moving from the status-quo to the reality of full-service schools."

Collaborative Practice reflects the Universityís mission to educate men and women for service to others, Mooney and Tourse add. The Jesuit tradition creates a context for teaching and learning that expands the traditional role of the university beyond the pursuit of knowledge and academic excellence, they say, to one that bridges faith and culture.

This aspect is explored in particular in one chapter by Adj. Assoc. Prof. Claire Lowery (Theology), director of the Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, and Asst. Prof. Hugo Kamya (GSSW).

Legal services are the focus of the chapter by Adj. Assoc. Prof. Francine Sherman (Law), while Lynch School of Education Dean Mary Brabeck and Adj. Asst. Prof. Paul Kline (GSSW) discuss the importance of dealing with ethical issues.

Other contributors include: Prof. Sandra Waddock (CSOM); GSSW faculty Assoc. Prof. Kathleen McInnis-Dittrich and Asst. Prof. Pauline Collins; LSOE faculty Assoc. Prof. Elizabeth Sparks and Asst. Prof. Otherine Neisler; and SON faculty Assoc. Prof. Rosemary Krawczyk and retired Assoc. Prof. Nancy Gaspard.

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