Core Skills Fundamentals

Open to students entering grade 9 or 10 in the fall
I - June 29–July 17, 2020
II - July 21–August 7, 2020
Days & Time:
Monday–Friday, 9:10 –11:00 a.m. and 1:10–3:00 p.m.
Barbara Morris, Paula Russo, Anne Summers, Renee Tobin

“I feel like I have vastly improved my reading and writing skills, and I am excited to see how I will do with these new skills in school next year.” – From a program course evaluation 

Course Description

In this two-course curricular option for rising high school freshmen and sophomores, participants hone skills that are at the core of advanced study in high school and college. Classroom environments are intimate and collaborative, and students learn by engaging actively with the subject matter, the instructors, and their peers. The focus throughout is on learning to think clearly, critically, and creatively. Each course meets daily, one in the morning, the other in the afternoon.

Expository Writing and Presentation Skills

The process of writing is emphasized as students learn to write through a "building block approach" which concentrates on how relatively simple meaning relationships and rhetorical strategies within an essay combine to yield intricate and sophisticated results. Attention is paid to developing skills in grammar, diction, usage, syntax, and punctuation. Toward the end of the session, each student delivers an oral presentation, thereby honing public speaking and presentation skills.

Critical Reading and Academic Skills

Analyzing fiction and nonfiction trains students to identify and critically respond to the messages conveyed by different kinds of writing. Emphasis is placed on understanding how formal characteristics such as rhetorical strategy, point of view, and diction condition the reader's perception of content. As students learn to read critically, they also acquire techniques for effective study and research. Study skill sessions and tutorials teach practical skills such as note-taking, outlining, summarizing, managing time, and using research tools.


Barbara Morris

Barbara Morris is a University of Chicago Ph.D. and the co-founder of a pioneering program in graduate research and writing at Parsons the New School for Design in the division of Art, Media and Technology. She has worked as a professor of film and literature at UCLA, Rutgers University, and Fordham University. Dr. Morris has received research fellowships from the Fulbright Committee, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the governments of Spain, the United States, and Argentina for her work in cinema studies.

Paula Russo

Paula Russo holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, a Master’s in History and Middle East Studies from Harvard’s Center for Middle East Studies, and an undergraduate degree from Princeton University. For the past fourteen years, she has been teaching Constitutional Law, Middle Eastern History, and Interdisciplinary Humanities at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. Past positions include Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at the University of Baltimore School of Law and Middle East North Africa Coordinator at Catholic Relief Services in Cairo, Egypt. She received support from the Foreign Language Area Studies fund at the State Department and the Social Science Research Council for graduate studies and dissertation research. Ms. Russo’s particular academic interests include the First Amendment, medieval and modern Egypt, and new pedagogy.

Anne Summers

Anne Summers received her B.A. from Barnard College and her Ph.D. from Stony Brook University. She was a Graduate Council Fellowship recipient at Stony Brook and holds an additional graduate certificate in women's studies. Her research focuses on perception in nineteenth-century literature and her publications include articles on Vernon Lee, Olive Schreiner, and Henry James. Anne is currently a Lecturer in the Department of English and Communications at Norwich University, where she teaches first-year writing and literature. She has previously taught undergraduate courses at both Stony Brook University and Manhattan College.

Renee Tobin

Renee Tobin holds a B.A. from Dickinson College, an M.A. in curriculum and teaching from Columbia University’s Teachers College, and a Ph.D. in language, learning, and literacy from Fordham University. Having worked as a learning specialist in a number of private schools in Manhattan, Dr. Tobin is currently one of the principals of East Side Counseling, Tutoring and Testing, which offers a wide range of psychological and educational services to children of all ages.

Back to the Course Guide

Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.