A Harvard-affiliated group set up to improve education in Cambridge's public schools has granted 12 area school teachers funds to educate students about other ways of life, the program's co-director said yesterday.
Alan Dyson, executive director of the Cambridge Partnership for Public Education, a coalition of businesses and universities set up two years ago, said his office awarded the grants of $300 to $500 last month to "build bridges to reduce isolation." He said teachers would use the money to bring in advocacy organizations for groups such as immigrants and the handicapped to talk with students about their background.
About 56 teachers submitted proposals to the Partnership and among those chosen were a project to encourage interaction between bilingual and English-speaking students and a pen pal program between the Peabody school and a suburban elementary school.
One program, run by Fitzgerald Elementary School teachers Sheila Donelan and Meredith Thompson, will bring handicapped students from the school's Special Needs program into regular classrooms and teach students about living with a disability.
"The goal of the program is to have the school population feel comfortable with people with handicaps," said Thompson.
While Harvard was not directly involved in administering the awards, it offers workshops for primary and secondary school teachers and donates two fellowships each year for teachers to study at the Graduate School of Education. Vice President for Government and Community Affairs John Shattuck co-chairs the Partnership.
The Partnership was created two years ago to get business and civic communities involved in Cambridge schools, said Dudley F. Blodget '67, director of external relations at the Ed School.