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Empowering education: Impactful partnerships drive change in K-12 schools

Valerie Marsh, associate professor at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester, collaborates with educators in K-12 schools to drive organizational and cultural transformations that directly enhance student outcomes.

As the assistant director for the Center for Urban Education Success, Marsh spearheads an educational partnership between the University and a neighboring Rochester city school. She emphasizes the importance of strengthening the connection between research, theory, and practice in this collaboration with East High School. “The partnership is about bringing these elements together,” she notes. Marsh collaborates with administrators, teachers, and students to conduct research aimed at enhancing East's overall performance. This includes addressing longstanding challenges such as low graduation and literacy rates. Remarkably, within six years, the graduation rate increased from 33 percent to an impressive 85 percent.

CUES plays a valuable role in identifying, addressing, and improving systems, practices, and the overall school culture at East. Marsh explains, “It takes longer to truly partner with the community to find out what it wants and needs.” Guided by the University’s set goals, this partnership strives to implement research-informed changes, prioritizing equity and justice for the community it serves. Marsh and the Center for Urban Education Success are committed to fostering a meaningful connection between the school and creating lasting change. 

Marsh’s research centers on adolescent literacy in English classrooms, specifically exploring how literacy practices prevalent outside the classroom can be applied within school settings. She collaborates with East teachers to help strengthen their instructional approaches while investigating literacies of power in their classrooms. 

Through her research and involvement with the Center for Urban Education Success at Warner, Marsh has been a driving force for transformative change in the community, helping to improve education locally. “If you want to change the world and seek the highest level of research, talent, and rigor,” Marsh says, “this is the place for you.”