Dan Kimberg conceived of Student U in 2005, while a Duke undergraduate in Professor Tony Brown’s entrepreneurship class. Four years and three successful summers later, Kimberg’s program works with 150 Durham Public Schools students and 36 college teachers, and it counts Durham Academy, UNC-Chapel Hill, and N.C. Central and Duke universities as partners.
Student U was designed as an educational and mentoring program for middle school students. For the past three years, the program has recruited rising sixth-graders from Durham Public Schools and made a three-year commitment to provide each with a free, annual, six-week summer enrichment program and year-round mentoring, tutoring and leadership opportunities.
In 2010, this three-year commitment will stretch into high school as Student U begins its first year of programming for 9th graders who entered the program in its first year. The design creates a unique year-round, multi-year development model that sustains academic and personal growth and emphasizes long-term relationships and community.
A secondary goal of Student U is to provide college students with real-life teaching experience. Kimberg employs students from Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill and N. C. Central as teachers at Student U, with the hope that many will decide to enter the teaching profession.
In Student U’s fourth summer, Kimberg expects that Student U will do an even better job of enticing young people to teaching by providing the teaching staff with a truly excellent training experience.
Duke’s Office of Durham and Regional Affairs is supporting this effort through a Doing Good in the Neighborhood Community Care Grant. Thanks to this grant, Student U will be able to provide its student teachers with additional training, and an enhanced curriculum.
“The better job we do training our teachers, the more likely it will be that they have a good experience at Student U and pursue a career in education,” Kimberg said.
Student U’s new curriculum, designed by Duke Professor of Education Jan Riggsbee, includes modules in lesson planning, interacting with middle school children, classroom management and Durham’s history and culture.
“Our No. 1 goal is to ensure that our student teachers are as effective in the classroom as they can be,” Kimberg said. “We want our middle schoolers to gain the academic and personal skills that they need, and this will help our teachers convey these skills to their students.”