School of Education Professor at UMass Amherst Wins Award From Elementary School Principals

AMHERST, Mass. - Robert Sinclair, a professor of teacher education and curriculum studies at the University of Massachusetts, received the Award of Distinction of the Massachusetts Elementary School Principals'' Association (MESPA), Wed. May 3 at the association''s annual spring conference in Hyannis.

The MESPA Award of Distinction, the highest honor given by MESPA to a person or organization outside of the association, was developed in 1989. It honors a program, project, or individual that has furthered the advancement of education in the state.

Sinclair was chosen for this prestigious award, says Nadya Aswad Higgins, MESPA executive director, because of his "exemplary leadership in the formation and facilitation of MESPA''s Massachusetts Coalition for the Advancement of Learning (MCAL)." This partnership of elementary schools from across the commonwealth seeks to accomplish a number of objectives over the next three years, including: developing school improvement plans that create curriculum conditions fostering effective learning; encouraging collaboration among principals, teachers, and parents to promote student learning; demonstrating the importance of local school and community decision-making through school councils and other collaborative means; and strengthening the capacity of local schools to evaluate their own effectiveness by using MCAS results and additional evaluation data.

Principals and teachers meet monthly at the MESPA Education Center in Marlborough or in their individual schools. In these collaborative settings they discuss curricula, programs, and ways for improving the quality of education. In addition, the members visit each others'' schools and share materials and ideas.

"The goals and activities of MCAL are impressive," says Higgins, "but what has impressed us so very much is the incredible personal sacrifice of time, effort, intellect, talent, and resources which Dr. Sinclair has brought to MCAL. He has led the coalition with dignity, patience, inspiration, and a quiet sense of what is right for children."

Sinclair received his Ed.D. from UCLA in 1968 and began teaching at UMass the same year. His books include "Reaching and Teaching All Children" and "Reaching Marginal Students: A Primary Concern for School Renewal." Sinclair has also served as the director of the National Coalition for Equality in Learning.

For more information contact Nadya Aswad Higgins at MESPA 508/624-0500 or higginsn@mespa.org.