Friday, March 30, 2007

BPS team competes at Academic Bowl for Deaf students

A team of students from several Boston Public Schools recently competed in the Gallaudet University Northeast Regional Academic Bowl for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students, and brought home the Sportsmanship Award. The competition, held this year at the Rochester School for the Deaf in Rochester, NY, tests students on general knowledge and quick recall, with questions being drawn from history, literature, science, the arts, deaf culture, and current events.
The BPS team is coached by teachers from the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and includes players from Horace Mann, as well as the Boston Arts Academy and Brook Farm Business & Service Career Academy. Pictured here, (back row, left to right) students Nneamaka Mordi, Natalie Bellevue, Ketya Destin, Josephine Yu, and Taylor Oliveira; (front row) John Wilcox, Head Coach and Diane Simon, Assistant Coach.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

State Board of Education salutes Boston Teacher Residency

The Massachusetts Board of Education held its monthly meeting today at the Richard J. Murphy K-8 School in Dorchester to highlight the Boston Teacher Residency (BTR) program as a model for new teacher preparation and training. Residents participate in a 13-month program involving both coursework and extensive classroom experience with a veteran teacher. BTR Director Jesse Solomon led a presentation about the program along with Principal Mary Russo and Murphy School teachers who are BTR graduates and mentors. Pictured here are (back row, left to right) Jonathan Redden, 4th grade teacher; Glenda Cresto, BTR site director; Jesse Solomon; (front row, left to right) Edna Keefe, 2nd grade teacher; Caitlin Hollister, 3rd grade teacher; and Jessica Alter, 6th grade teacher.

State Board of Education approves English High "Co-Pilot" proposal

Also at today's meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Education voted to approve the English High School's proposal to become one of the first four Commonwealth Pilot Schools (now dubbed "Co-Pilots") next year. Faculty at English voted in favor of the proposal in January in order to accelerate the school's improvement through greater autonomy. Board members expressed confidence in plans to strengthen the school, including lower enrollment in two small learning communities, an extended school day, and a rigorous approach to ensuring college success among all graduates. See the coverage from New England Cable News.

Payzant Scholarship to recognize student leaders

The Boston School Committee has announced the inaugural Thomas W. Payzant Public Service in Education Scholarship, to be awarded annually to a graduating Boston Public Schools senior who has demonstrated academic achievement and who has contributed to education reform in his or her school, district, or community. The winning student will receive a $2,000 college scholarship. The scholarship honors former Superintendent Tom Payzant for his nearly 11 years of service to the district. To apply, eligible students must submit by May 1, 2007, a completed application form, high school transcript, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement about their contributions to education reform through student leadership. More information and an application form are available on-line.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Boston students demonstrate knowledge in Science

The recent 61st Annual BPS Citywide Science Fair at Northeastern University showcased the science projects of more than 300 middle and high school students. The top 40 projects in the high school division will go on to compete in the Massachusetts State High School Science & Engineering Fair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) May 3-5, while the top 40 projects in the middle school division will go on to compete in the statewide competition at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester on June 2. The two highest scoring high school winners, Anartya Mandal of Brighton, a sophomore at Boston Latin School, and Tony Chau, a student at the Boston Asian Youth Essential Services GED program in Chinatown, will go on to compete in the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in New Mexico, May 13-19. Pictured here, Sahairy Peguero of Hyde Park and Danette Pena of Jamaica Plain, both seniors at Madison Park Technical-Vocational High School, explain their experiments about auto body chemicals.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Summer Stuff" guides now available

Tomorrow may be the first day of spring, but it's not too early for Boston students and their families to start making plans for the summer. Two publications produced by the BPS Communications Office can help. Summer Stuff (for middle and high school students) and Summer Stuff Jr. (for elementary school students) list hundreds of summer camps, classes, activities, internships, and job opportunities for the coming summer. The guides are available in all Boston Public Schools and Family Resource Centers, as well as libraries, community centers, YMCA branches, City Hall, and Head Start pre-schools. You can also download a copy from the BPS website.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Submit nominations for Boston Educators of the Year

Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the Boston Public Schools, and the Boston Teachers Union invite nominations for Boston Educators of the Year. The awards program is an outgrowth of the Boston Teachers of the Year program that has been in place for the past several years, now expanded to include other educators such as paraprofessionals, school nurses, and guidance counselors. An independent committee will select a group of exceptional educators to be honored at a ceremony on June 19. The deadline for school communities to submit nominations is Tuesday, April 17. The BPS website contains more information as well as a nomination form.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Surprise assembly honors Boston's "Absolutely Incredible Kid": Brenda Tejeda Baez

When students and teachers at the Agassiz Elementary School in Jamaica Plain filed into the school auditorium on March 15, they were expecting to hear Mayor Menino and BPS officials launch a new technology initiative. Instead, the Mayor surprised them with the announcement that third grader Brenda Tejeda Baez had won the first BPS "Absolutely Incredible Kid" contest. Brenda was nominated by her current and former teacher and was selected from among nearly 100 nominees citywide. Mayor Menino, Superintendent Michael Contompasis and School Committee Chair Elizabeth Reilinger congratulated Brenda for her high academic achievement despite personal challenges, including a daily commute to the Agassiz from Worcester while living in a homeless shelter. Brenda and her mother Dolores received gifts and prizes, including tickets to the Boston Red Sox, Duck Tours, and two weeks at a summer day camp. The next day, Brenda was featured in a front-page story with a full-color photo in the Boston Globe.

The celebration took place on the 11th annual national Absolutely Incredible Kid Day sponsored by Camp Fire USA. Also cited for honorable mention were six other BPS students: Anthony "D.J." Ramos, Blackstone Elementary School; Kristeon Mesa, Winthrop Elementary School; Tibisay Pena, Cleveland Middle School; Adryonna Montgomery, Mildred Avenue Middle School; Enrico Joseph, Parkway Academy of Technology & Health; and Angelina Rodriguez, Boston Community Leadership Academy. Congratulations to all of the students who were nominated!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Boston teacher is "America's Next Fitness Star"

Brandy Cruthird, a teacher at Quincy Upper School in Bay Village, is about to become "America's Next Fitness Star." The Roxbury resident got her big break when she was chosen by fans voting on-line out of a field of nearly 1,000 competitors nationwide. (See earlier entry on this blog.) Jake Steinfeld, founder of ExerciseTV, announced Brandy as the winner in a surprise assembly yesterday at Quincy Upper, a pilot middle/high school. Brandy is also an alumna of the Boston Public Schools. She graduated from the Jeremiah E. Burke High School, where she earned All-State and All-American honors in basketball. After graduating from the Burke, she went on to James Madison University in Virginia, where she was named Rookie of the Year in Division 1 Women’s Basketball. Pictured here, Brandy celebrates her win with her students and Jake Steinfeld.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Brittany White leads New Mission girls' basketball to state championship

Today's Boston Globe features a story about Brittany White, a guard on the New Mission High School Girls' Basketball Team. Last night, Brittany led her team to victory in the Division 4 State Championship game at the TD BankNorth Garden, scoring 26 points in the 65-59 win over Sacred Heart. Congratulations to Brittany, coach Cory McCarthy, and the entire team!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Perkins students answer the question: "What IS Evacuation Day?"

March 17th is most commonly associated with St. Patrick's Day, but here in Suffolk County, Bostonians also know this date as Evacuation Day. Students at the Perkins Elementary School in South Boston recently asked, "So what is Evacuation Day anyway?" With help from their teachers, the students have produced a book that explains the significance of the day in text and images. They learned that the events surrounding Evacuation Day -- when British troops fled Boston during the American Revolution -- took place just steps from the Perkins School, in the Dorchester Heights section of South Boston. Pictured here (click to enlarge) is a map of the area at the time, showing the positioning of British and American troops.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Three-quarters of Class of 2008 have met State MCAS graduation requirement

Nearly 75% of Boston Public Schools students in the Class of 2008 have passed both the English Language Arts and Mathematics sections of the Grade 10 MCAS exams after just one or two attempts, fulfilling the graduation requirement halfway through their junior year. These results outpace previous classes, with 69% of the Class of 2007 having met "Competency Determination" at this point last year. When the test was first administered, less than half of the Class of 2003 passed both tests after just two tries. (Click on the image above to enlarge.) The gains are consistent with Boston high school students' record performance improvements on the Spring 2006 exams. For complete statewide results, visit the Massachusetts Department of Education website.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

School Committee approves later start time for 10 high schools

The school day will begin a little later beginning next year in ten Boston public high schools. Last night, the Boston School Committee approved a proposal from Superintendent Contompasis to shift start times in about half of the schools that now open at 7:20 a.m. The recommendation emerged as a result of studies by the district's REACT group (staffed by the Boston Plan for Excellence) and the Boston Student Advisory Council, who suggested that the early start times may contribute to student tardiness and absenteeism in the citywide high schools, a claim supported by national research. In order to accommodate the later start times, the School Committee modified the district's transportation policy, prioritizing routes to Boston Public Schools before scheduling trips to private, parochial and charter schools. While all students who live in Boston are still eligible for free BPS transportation, non-BPS schools may have to adjust their school hours in order to align with the district's bus schedules.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Frederick Middle School launches 1:1 Wireless Learning Initiative

State Representative Marie St. Fleur today joined Mayor Menino, Superintendent Contompasis, Principal Deb Socia and other elected officials and community members to kickoff the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School 1:1 Wireless Learning Initiative. The Frederick becomes the first urban school in the Commonwealth to launch such an initiative, which will provide a wireless laptop computer to every student and teacher at the school. A ceremony in the school auditorium today featured student projects created through new technology. Pictured here, Frederick students demonstrate laptop learning to Rep. St. Fleur and Mayor Menino.

Philbrick Elementary students learning Mandarin Chinese

This is National Foreign Language Week -- a great opportunity to recognize students throughout the district who are learning other languages. Fifty students at the John D. Philbrick Elementary School in Roslindale are staying after school to learn to speak and write in Mandarin Chinese, an innovative program developed in partnership with Philbrick parents and supported by a grant from the Freeman Foundation. According to the U.S. Department of Education, less than one-half of one percent of American students taking a foreign language in grades K-12 study Chinese. Boston Public Schools has offered Chinese language instruction since 1983, when Snowden International High School became the first school in Massachusetts to develop a Mandarin Chinese program. Today, eleven BPS schools offer Mandarin language classes. This year, Boston Latin School began offering the district’s first Advanced Placement (AP) Chinese class, while Quincy Upper School plans to add an AP Chinese course next year.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Who was Louis Agassiz?

We received positive feedback on a recent entry about Charles Sumner, after whom the Roslindale elementary school is named, so from time to time, we will post other profiles of the men and women immortalized in the names of Boston schools. The Louis Agassiz Elementary School in Jamaica Plain is named after a Swiss-American zoologist, glaciologist, and geologist (born 1807, died 1873), who is recognized as one of the first world-class American scientists. He earned early acclaim by becoming the first to propose that the earth had been subject to an Ice Age. Funded by the King of Prussia, Agassiz emigated to America, and eventually settled in Boston, where he became a professor at Harvard College in 1847. Some historians have raised concerns about Agassiz's claims about the inferiority of the black race and contend that the underlying racism in his research may have "provided a good deal of fuel for the cause of slavery." Though Agassiz later denounced slavery and sided with the North in the Civil War, his views on race and his rejection of Darwinism continue to mar his legacy.
Agassiz's daughter Ida later married Boston Symphony Orchestra founder Henry L. Higginson, after whom the Roxbury elementary school is named.