Happy Birthday, Central Falls/RIC Innovation Lab

Rhode Island College will host a celebration of the first anniversary of its partnership with the Central Falls School District – The Innovation Lab – on Saturday, May 3, 9-11 a.m., in Alger Hall, Room 110.

This showcase event brings together the Central Falls and RIC students, faculty, parents and community partners who have created a wide range of mutually beneficial learning-based projects to create a vibrant shared community through innovation in learning, teaching and services models.

Launched in 2013, the Central Falls/RIC Innovation Lab is a unique, first-in-the-nation collaboration involving the entire Central Falls School District and all of Rhode Island College. 

The partnership is meant to meet the diverse needs of all Central Falls residents; advance teaching, learning and research at RIC; and serve as an innovative laboratory to create replicable programs in urban education, community development and healthy communities.

“While Central Falls has opportunities to help our students and families, we are small and limited in what we can do on our own,” said Central Falls School District Superintendent Fran Gallo. “Having a viable partnership with RIC to provide wraparound programs to guide our students to success from pre-K to college and beyond, broadens our horizons for our entire community.”

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo said, “Through our Innovation Lab partnership, our students and faculty are able to research the effectiveness of programs that enrich the RIC and Central Falls communities.”

The showcase will allow attendees to meet students and faculty from Central Falls and RIC and to learn about partnership projects and the Innovation Lab’s accomplishments.

Partnership projects, which are growing in number, include:

·   Clinical Teacher Preparation – RIC Feinstein School of Education and Human Development students learn on site at Central Falls High School through a combination of course instruction, classroom observation and interaction with Central Falls students, teachers, parents and administrators. Central Falls students participate in discussions and classroom activities and interact with RIC students. Central Falls and RIC faculty have the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas about best practices in teaching and research.

·   Social Work Internships – RIC School of Social Work students work with Central Falls children and youth individually and in groups on a host of issues of concern for middle and high school students. This project offers RIC students opportunities to work within and learn from diverse communities. It also ensures that Central Falls students receive individualized services and assistance.

·   Friday Campus Visits – On Fridays throughout the academic year, RIC welcomes Central Falls students, teachers and parents to campus to attend workshops and classes, use RIC research and physical education facilities and engage in activities that build awareness and understanding of the college experience.

RIC Coordinator for the Innovation Lab Julie Horwitz, associate professor of educational studies, said that the first year of this long-term partnership has created new connections between the participants and provided every participant – faculty, student and parents – with new ideas around education system reform.

“We are all committed to this and together we are making things better for everyone involved,” Horwitz said.

For more information on the CF/RIC Innovation Lab, visit www.ric.edu/innovationlab.