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Ready for Success Summit Addresses Importance of Enhancing Research Skills

Success summit 1
Success summit 1
Christine Fena, undergraduate success librarian, with Outstanding Librarian Partner award winners Diane Longo and Maureen Ryan of Brentwood High School, and Janet Clarke, associate dean for research and learning.

In an ever-evolving landscape of education and the job market, the significance of honing robust research skills cannot be undervalued. High school serves as the foundational stage where students cultivate these essential abilities to navigate the complexities of higher education and the workforce effectively.

Recognizing this pivotal juncture, high school teachers and librarians convened March 15 for the Ready for Success Information Literacy Summit.

The Ready for Success Summit, held in the Stony Brook Union Ballroom, was the culmination of a three-year partnership between Stony Brook University Libraries and Brentwood High School designed to help embed academic research activities into the high school curriculum. The Summit was funded by a generous grant from the William E. & Maude S. Pritchard Charitable Trust.

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The Ready for Success Team with Brenda Boyer, keynote speaker, and Brentwood High School teachers.

Stony Brook University library faculty began meeting with Brentwood High School teachers and librarians in 2021, with the goal of exposing teachers to important themes in information literacy that they could use with students. Throughout the next three years, Stony Brook librarians remained in close contact with Brentwood teachers and librarians for check-ins, updates, interviews, and retreats to discuss the successes and challenges of the research-skills based curriculum. The goal: to support and encourage increased attention on integrating research skills into high school curricula so the students graduate better prepared to do research in school and in life.

More than 100 teachers, administrators, and librarians, representing more than 40 school districts on Long Island, attended the Summit, during which they participated in workshops and discussions and heard from panelists and speakers on how best to integrate research skills into their courses. The event also drew educators from elementary and middle schools.

Janet Clarke, associate dean for research and learning at Stony Brook University Libraries, spearheaded the event and the project, along with Chris Kretz, head of academic engagement, and Christine Fena, undergraduate success librarian. The idea began when they noticed that when faced with their first research paper, first-year students at Stony Brook displayed a wide range of research skills, ranging from very good to very poor.

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Brentwood teacher panelists Kimberly Williams, Patricia Orechovsky, Laura Pombonyo, Jessica Ullrich and Sydney Bryan.

The need to alleviate this disparity led Clarke and her team to request grant funding, and to then partner with Brentwood High School, the largest school district in Suffolk County and one in which 82 percent of students are economically disadvantaged and only 12 percent of students are “college ready,” based on performance on state-required tests and college-level coursework.

The purpose was not only to work the high-performing students, but also to work with those who may not attend college, to teach them the research and critical thinking skills necessary for day-to-day life when working or making informed decisions such as purchasing a house or a car.

The other goal of the project was to elevate the visibility of high school librarians, who are often underutilized, to bring them together with both the teaching staff and the Stony Brook University librarians, to create a team-based partnership that could be replicated across the country.

“The Summit was a tremendous success,” said Clarke. “Some districts brought the librarian, teacher, and an administrator, which is the Golden Trio, to show their commitment to this project. To have about one-third of all schools on Long Island show up because they are excited and want to help equip their students for better research skills or life skills is just amazing.”

— Beth Squire


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  • As an ex-high school teacher, ex-university faculty, and current research nurse at SB, this is really exciting news! Great work!

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