Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy holidays from the Boston Public Schools!

All of us at the Boston Public Schools wish every child, parent, employee and supporter a wonderful holiday season. Congratulations and thank you to BPS students and staff for raising more than $23,000 to support families in need through the Globe Santa program!

This has been an exciting year for the school district, and we look forward to continued success in 2007. School resumes for all students on Wednesday, January 3. Until then, we wish you a safe and joyous holiday, and we thank you for your continued support of the Boston Public Schools.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"Fergie" treats Philbrick students to tea

Sarah Ferguson, England's Duchess of York, recently treated students from the Philbrick Elementary School in Roslindale to tea at the new InterContinental Hotel to help celebrate World Children's Day. "Fergie," as she is more commonly known, is the World Children's Day goodwill ambassador for Ronald McDonald House Charities, which also supports the Philbrick's dance program in partnership with the Topf Center for Dance Education. Pictured here with the Philbrick students are (back row, left to right) Philbrick Principal Stephen Zrike, Jr.; Richard Rein, Director of the Topf Center; the Duchess; and a special guest.

Roosevelt students prove "you can't judge a book by its cover"

Students at the Roosevelt Elementary School in Hyde Park recently celebrated their favorite books in the first of three Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) events of the year, sponsored by ReadBoston. In keeping with the theme, "You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover," every student in kidergarten through grade 5 designed a quilt square representing the cover or his or her favorite book. On the day of the event, the students' work was displayed in the cafeteria, where students assembled their squares into a schoolwide quilt. Every child also received a book to take home to read with their families.

McKay girls have "Locks of Love" to give this holiday season

When Jodi Rosen, a fifth grade teacher at the Donald McKay K–8 School in East Boston, returned from Thanksgiving break, her students noticed something was missing. Ms. Rosen, who once sported long hair, arrived with a short new hairstyle. When her students asked Ms. Rosen why she cut her hair, she explained: to help children. Ms. Rosen had her hair cut and donated to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to children suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

Two of her students -- Oyuky Torres and Mileena Boodoosingh (pictured here, left and right) -- were so inspired by Ms. Rosen’s kindness that they volunteered to donate their hair as well, with the permission of their families. Ms. Rosen accompanied the girls to a local salon for their haircuts, and the occasion was featured in the Boston Herald.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kudos abound for CIO Kim Rice

Two educational technology publications have recently heralded the accomplishments of BPS Chief Information Officer Kim Rice. First, Technology and Learning magazine named Kim one of four EdTech Leaders of the Year in its December issue, saying, "Kim Rice's laser-like focus on customer service, her ability to inspire different constituencies, and her unswerving eye on teaching and learning have earned the respect of the entire community." Now she is profiled in the latest issue of School CIO magazine. Pictured here, Kim poses with Mayor Menino at the Court Street Open House last August sporting her duck hat, in keeping with the OIIT mantra of "getting our ducks in a row." To keep up with the latest developments in OIIT, check out Kim's blog.

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BPS community celebrates winning the Broad Prize

Several hundred members of the BPS community -- including students, parents, teachers, principals, administrators and partners -- attended a "Winter Wonderland" at the Boston Convention Center to celebrate Boston winning the Broad Prize for Urban Education.

The event, sponsored by the Broad Foundation and hosted by Mayor Menino, the Boston School Committee and Superintendent Contompasis, paid tribute to the top city school district in the country. Guests brought contributions to Toys For Tots and enjoyed ice cream sundaes.

Pictured here, from top to bottom: (Click any photo to enlarge)

(1) Former Superintendent Tom Payzant with Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) members and Jenny Sazama from Youth on Board;

(2) Representatives from the Everett Elementary School, former staff member Amy Stern, principal Nicole Mack, and parent Alicia Zipp;

(3) Members of the Kenny Elementary School Marching Band perform holiday favorites.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Guild School custodian trades in brooms for books

As the custodian at the Curtis Guild Elementary School in East Boston, Robert Pieper believes his responsibilities include more than sweeping floors and washing windows. He believes every adult can support children's learning in and out of the classroom. That's why Mr. Pieper took a break from his maintenance duties recently to read to a class of special needs kindergarten students at a Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) event sponsored by ReadBoston. Mr. Pieper, whose children also attend Boston Public Schools, joined Guild parents and other visitors to the school in reading aloud from children's books, which the students will bring home to read with their families.

Good press for "Press Pass TV"

The third season of Press Pass TV, a citywide after-school program for BPS television students, is featured on the "After School Scene" website. The program, based out of Madison Park High School but open to students from all schools, teaches youth how to produce TV news stories, with an emphasis on stories that promote civic awareness and engagement. Segments are produced and packaged into a 30 minute TV news magazine broadcast on local access, on the Press Pass TV website, and distributed on DVD.

Friday, December 08, 2006

TAG Program honors Nydia Mendez

The Talented And Gifted (TAG) Latino Program sponsored by UMass Boston recently presented an award to Nydia O. Mendez, BPS Director of the Office of Language Learning and Support Services (OLLSS). Ms. Mendez was honored at TAG's 21st anniversary gala celebration for her commitment to the program and her work on behalf of English Language Learners. Launched in 1985, the program offers a range of programs - including tutoring, mentoring, college preparation, family engagement, and extra-curricular activities - to Latino students during the school year and the summer. Students who participate in the program and graduate from high school are guaranteed admission to UMass Boston. Pictured here, Ms. Mendez accepts the award from Rick Otero, a 1990 graduate of the TAG program and Boston Latin Academy.

Tavis Smiley encourages Eastie students to pursue STEM careers

Students at East Boston High School (EBHS) recently learned about opportunities to become the next generation of leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). A student assembly featured presenations from media personality Tavis Smiley and ExxonMobil representative Erskine Frison as part of the "Talented Tenth High SchoolTour." The message of the day: Lessons learned in math and science classes in high school today can lead to success in career tomorrow. Pictured here (left to right) are Mr. Frison, EBHS senior My Chi Tran, Mr. Smiley, EBHS senior Orlando Weller, and EBHS Headmaster Mike Rubin.

BPS teacher and alumna competing to be "America's Next Fitness Star"

She is a teacher at the Quincy Upper School. She is a graduate of the Burke High School, where she earned All-State and All-American honors in basketball. She went on to become Division 1 Women's Basketball "Rookie of the Year" at James Madison University. She owns her own fitness studio in Dudley Square. She's won numerous awards and has been featured in Essence, the Boston Globe, the Boston Business Journal, and other media. And now Brandy Cruthird of Dorchester hopes to add another entry to her distinguished resume: America's Next Fitness Star. Brandy is a finalist in the national competition sponsored by ExerciseTV, with the winner getting a one-year contract for a fitness series and a year's supply of NewBalance footwear and apparel. Brandy's audition video is posted on the competition website, where visitors can vote for their favorites. Good luck, Brandy!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Welcome to BPS" gift bags await new kindergarten families

When school registration begins next month for students entering Boston Public Schools in September, the families of new kindergarten students will receive gift bags at the Family Resource Centers courtesy of Countdown to Kindergarten and its partner organizations. More than 40 volunteers (some pictured here) from Jumpstart, Generations Incorporated, Boston Partners in Education, Boston Cares, and BPS pitched in this week to assemble more than 6,000 bags full of useful information about the transition to kindergarten and fun gifts for kids and parents. Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about the school choice process.

Mayor and United Way announce $1 million school readiness initiative

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay yesterday announced an ambitious $1 million citywide initiative to promote school readiness among Boston's youngest citizens. The goal of the effort is to prevent the achievement gap among families of different races and income levels by ensuring that the youngest children get the academic, social and health services they need to succeed in school and life. More than 31,000 households in Boston have at least one child between the ages of birth and 5.

The initiative is funded by a $633,000 grant from an anonymous donor, which is matched by more than $360,000 in additional support and in-kind contributions from 12 partner organizations. The effort is closely aligned with the Boston Public Schools' expanded work in early childhood education, including the creation of new K1 classrooms for four-year-old students. Pictured here, (left to right) Mayor Menino is joined at the announcement by Milton J. Little, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, and Michael Contompasis, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

BLA student to represent Boston in National Vocabulary Championship

Sometimes it pays to learn your vocabulary words. Just ask Richard Goggin of Hyde Park, a junior at Boston Latin Academy, who outperformed 74 other local vocabulary high school scholars to win the first-ever Boston citywide championship in the National Vocabulary Championship (NVC). Richard earned $5,000 toward higher education and will now compete for $40,000 in the National Vocabulary Championship finals in New York City on March 5. The runner-up in the local contest was Kadian Simmonds of Mattapan, also from Boston Latin Academy. Students from 11 other Boston public high schools also competed. Pictured here, Richard (right) accepts the prize check from David Green, Senior Manager for Government and Community Relations at Comcast, a sponsor of the local competition.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

BPS students serenade holiday shoppers

During the holiday season, downtown shoppers are being treated to the musical talents of Boston Public Schools students. Student musicians from several Boston schools are featured in performances as part of the Downtown Crossing Association's "Holi-Daily" performance series sponsored by the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Mayor's Office of Arts, Tourism & Special Events. Pictured here, (top) the Agassiz Elementary School Choir performing yesterday, and (bottom) the Philbrick Elementary School Choir performing today. Coming up: McCormack Middle School Concert Band, December 22. All performances take place on Summer Street, between the Filene's and Macy's buildings, at 12:00 noon.

Congratulations, Brighton High Bengals!

For the first time in the school's history, the Brighton High School Bengals football team won the division title, earning a spot in the MIAA Division 4 Super Bowl game on Saturday, December 2. Although the team lost to West Bridgewater (34-12), the Bengals had an impressive season. Congratulations! Pictured here, BHS cheerleaders (left to right) Tia Hiton, Nakeisha Doudain, and Charisse Curet were airborne during the halftime show. Photo by John Tlumacki, Boston Globe.

Friday, December 01, 2006

National Inclusive Schools Week focuses on transitions

Next week (December 4-8) marks the 6th annual National Inclusive Schools Week, celebrating schools' efforts to use inclusive practices to ensure a quality education for a diverse student population, including students with disabilities, those from low socio-economic backgrounds, and English language learners. The theme of this year's celebration is "Charting an Inclusive Journey through School, Work, and Life: Successful Transition Planning for All Students," focused on helping students make seamless transitions between grades and schools.

Bill Henderson, principal of the O'Hearn Elementary School in Dorchester, explained, "Research has consistently demonstrated that inclusive teaching practices are not about 'dumbing down' the curriculum or teaching to the lowest common denominator, but rather ensuring that the classroom offers opportunities for ALL children to succeed." To mark the week, the O'Hearn school community will hold an after-school assembly on December 7, featuring students' entries in the national poster and essay contest about inclusion. A well-known R&B singer who is blind will provide a mini-concert to conclude the celebration. Learn more about the week at Education World.