Core Skills Fundamentals

Open to students entering grade 9 or 10 in the fall
I - June 24–July 12, 2019
II - July 16–August 2, 2019
Days & Time:
Monday–Friday, 9:10 –11:00 a.m. and 1:10–3:00 p.m.
Peter Conolly-Smith, Brett Shanley, Anne Summers, and 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 Study 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.


Peter Conolly-Smith

Peter Conolly-Smith received his Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University. He has worked extensively in fiction and documentary film and teaches history, culture, and film at CUNY-Queens College, where he received the 2009 President's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. He is the author of Translating America (Smithsonian Press, 2004), as well as numerous academic articles on ethnicity, culture, film and history.

Brett Shanley

Brett Shanley is a Ph.D. student at Columbia University's Teachers College in the field of English education, with particular interests in semiotics, knowledge acquisition, and the role sincerity plays in student writing. He holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from The New School. Brett has worked in journalism and taught courses in creative and academic writing at various institutions, and he currently teaches composition and literature at Pace University.

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 she has published work on Vernon Lee and Olive Schreiner. Anne has taught at Stony Brook University and Manhattan College. She has also worked as a copy-editor, editorial assistant, and SAT prep instructor.

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.