Warner School receives grant

The Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development received a $3.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Early Reading First program, to create a curriculum specially designed to help preschool children in the Rochester area.

“[The program will be] a partnership between the Warner School and the Diocese of Rochester, but it will be centered in the Warner School – the main offices will be [here],” research associate and co-project director Kathy Conezio said.

The project is part of a national effort to improve preschools by increasing the support and resources available to teachers and parents.

The program is instituted in conjunction with the Roman Catholic schools of Rochester rather than the public schools. “The U.S. Department of Education had certain requirements that [the Rochester] public school system didn’t meet – like summer school [and] full-day programs with wrap-around care,” associate professor at the Warner School and co-director of the project Lucia French said. “The Diocese of Rochester serves very low income children in its preschool programs, so this was the population the Department of Education is especially interested in funding.”

French and Conezio plan on using the grant money on teacher training, classroom materials, a family literacy initiative and evaluation of the effectiveness of the curriculum.

The project will be modeled after another Warner School program called ScienceStart!, of which Conezio is the director.

“The ScienceStart! program is an all-day, everyday curriculum for preschoolers that uses science as the basis for language and literacy learning in preschool classrooms,” Conezio said. “The activities focus on children learning about the everyday world around them.”

French and Conezio plan on using the ScienceStart! curriculum as the main curriculum in all of the classrooms involved in the grant project.

The Rochester Catholic school system will serve as a demonstration center for regional and national preschools during the three-year project, inviting others from different areas to visit the classrooms and begin creating programs for themselves.

“The goal is to create centers of excellence across the country to show young children can learn a great deal and become ‘ready for school’ if they are provided with a high-quality preschool experience,” French said.

ITS introduces new spam-filtering program

The Information Technology Services recently instituted a new spam-filtering program to prevent viruses and junk mail from infiltrating UR WebMail.

ITS set up the program in response to an influx of spam and viruses which filled up the storage space on the mail server and made mail access difficult for students.

“The virus influx also prompted this [program], like the ‘Re: hi’ messages everyone was getting,” senior and ITS consultant Chris Lindstrom said. “All these things will be filtered out because they’ll be read as junk mail.”

The program is also very user-friendly. “This program is very easy [to use],” Lindstrom said. “[Users] don’t have to set anything up, there’s hardly any thinking involved.”

In order to access the PureMessage spam filter, students can go to http://www.rochester.edu/its/email/spam. Only a NetID and password are required.

Lindstrom suggested students avoid signing up for tempting online offers with their UR accounts, such as free iPod contests, as such offers provoke the spam that the new system is designed to filter out.

Junior computer science major Trevor Oldak agreed with Lindstrom. According to him, although the new ITS program is helpful, the method of “spam abstinence” is just as effective as a filter.

“I don’t currently use any filter,” Oldak said. “The best protection against spam is to be very careful about where you give out your e-mail address. I’m not loose with my e-mail address and it’s worked very well for me.”

Reporting by Rebecca Shore

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