Tuesday, July 27, 2010

INDIA New England names Edwards Middle School assistant principal 2010 Woman of the Year

INDIA New England magazine has named Amrita Sahni, an assistant principal at the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, as its 2010 Woman of the Year. Many of her colleagues from the Edwards submitted nominations on Ms. Sahni's behalf and attended the awards ceremony last month at the Westin Waltham-Boston hotel in Waltham. Read the article describing Ms. Sahni's accomplishments, including her work on the Edwards School's Extended Learning Time (ELT) initiative or watch the video about the awards ceremony.

INDIA New England's Woman of the Year 2010 from Timeless Lens on Vimeo.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tobin K-8 principal appears on 'CityLine'

Over the weekend, Tobin K-8 principal Cheryl Watson-Harris was a guest on WCVB-TV's "CityLine" program. Host Karen-Holmes Ward invited her to participate in a discussion about the importance of community partnerships in a child's education.

Watson-Harris is a great example of a school leader who has brought non-profits, community groups and individuals into her school to help all students succeed. For years, she has spread the message that children from low-income families tend to lose an average of three months' literacy and two months' math skills during summer break. Put another way, it takes some children three months or more of schoolwork in the fall just to get back to where they were when they left their classrooms in June. Like many of our school leaders and teachers, Watson-Harris has worked tirelessly to help students enroll in productive summer programs.

The topic of the CityLine program was the "Opportunity Agenda," a groundbreaking partnership between some of Boston's leading philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. Together, these partners have pledged more than $27 million to help Boston's children succeed. The donations will be used to help nonprofits expand and coordinate their work inside and outside our classrooms -- to make sure that all of our students have the support they need to excel. The Opportunity Agenda has aligned many of its goals with the BPS Acceleration Agenda, which calls for increasing student standards and performance across all levels within the next four years.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Boston teachers volunteer in the Dominican Republic this summer

Teachers at the Young Women's Summer Leadership Program
This summer nine Boston Public Schools teachers are spending four weeks in the Dominican Republic teaching English, health, reading, math and leadership skills to young girls through the Mariposa Foundation's Young Women's Summer Leadership Program. The BPS teachers come from several different schools, including the Blackstone Elementary, Ohrenberger K-8, Frederick Pilot Middle, Harbor Middle, Boston Latin Academy, and Boston Adult Technical Academy (BATA). The group also includes one retired teacher from Madison Park High School. They are among 22 educators -- some from other parts of the U.S. and others local volunteers from Cabarete, DR -- who are participating in the program this summer.

Teachers help students measure the perimeter of their desks.

In addition to teaching, BPS teachers help to create individual education plans and personal profiles of each girl so that their progress can be tracked throughout their adolescence.  Working together with a group of parents and leaders from the Cabarete Community, the teachers are part of an experiential education program that teaches young girls leadership qualities and marketable skills - setting them off on the right path to become active leaders for social change in their communities. Follow the program's progress on the teachers' blog.

Founded in 2009, the Mariposa DR Foundation is a US 501c3, community-run organization that provides sustainable and creative solutions to end extreme poverty, especially empowering girls and women to achieve their full potential. The organization serves Dominican and Haitian children and families, providing them with the tools they need to become active community leaders for social change.

Photos courtesy of the Mariposa Project.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

BPS in the News: Dorchester Reporter story on Haitian children who came to BPS after the earthquake

This week's issue of the Dorchester Reporter has an article about students who came to the Boston Public Schools after the earthquake in Haiti earlier this year. Since January, BPS has enrolled 159 Haitian students. The article highlights the district's SIFE program for Students with Interrupted Formal Education and features interviews with students and with SIFE teacher Evelyn Prophete, who was a 2010 Boston Educator of the Year.

Photo: Tara Merrigan, Dorchester Reporter

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mayor, Superintendent host healthy BBQ to launch Summer Food Program

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Superintendent Carol R. Johnson joined hundreds of students for a special barbecue lunch on July 13 at the Mildred Avenue K-8 School to kick off a summer of healthy eating and launch the Summer Food Service Program. This event was the first in a series of healthy barbecues that BPS and BCYF will host this summer at locations throughout the city to highlight the importance of healthy eating and the benefits of fresh, local foods.

Chef Kirk Conrad and his student “sous-chefs” from the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness Youth Advisory Board prepared healthy side dishes to be served at the barbecue using local produce from Czajkowski Farms in Hadley, MA. On the menu were corn-on-the cob, cold green bean salad, and fresh blueberries.

Dr. Johnson also stopped by the Boston Public Health Commission's booth and signed the "Soda-Free Summer Pledge," a promise not to drink soda for the entire summer.

The summer meals program provides free daily meals for children ages 18 and under at approximately 148 sites and programs across the city and runs through September 3. For information and serving times, please call the Project Bread Hotline at 1-800-645-8333.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Two BPS teachers travel to Malaysia to present at international conference on Chinese explorer Zheng He

Two Boston Public Schools teachers are traveling to Melaka, Malaysia to present at an international conference on the Chinese explorer Zheng He. Alicia Carroll and Lucy Montgomery will speak about their children's book, Malindi's Journey: An African Giraffe Encounters China. Malindi's Journey tells the story of the giraffe's journey from Malindi (Swahili coast) to China, to be presented to the Yong-Le Emperor by Zheng He. Following the conference, Ms. Carroll and Ms. Montgomery will travel to Singapore and Nanjing, visiting cultural and historical sites and learning more about Zheng He. Their three-week trip is funded by a Fund for Teachers grant, and you can read more about it on their blog.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Two BPS schools designated International Baccalaureate (IB) world schools

Two Boston schools have been designated International Baccalaureate (IB) world schools. Muriel S. Snowden International School at Copley and the Josiah Quincy Upper School located in Chinatown will serve as IB sites starting immediately. The world-renowned non-profit organization is known for high standards and pedagogical leadership. Students at both schools will spend their junior and senior years studying college-level material in six, two-year long courses. Students will also work on substantive research papers, integrative thinking, and achieving goals they set to become people of creativity, action and service.  The BPS Acceleration Agenda, unveiled in November 2009, sets a goal of having 100% of BPS students take at least one college-level course (Advanced Placement, Honors, International Baccalaureate and/or dual enrollment) during high school. Read more in the press release.

The addition of Snowden and Quincy brings to 13 the total number of IB programs in Massachusetts. A July 2 New York Times story discusses the rise in popularity of the IB program in U.S. schools.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Principals and headmasters get jump start on school year at leadership conference

Principals and headmasters from all 135 BPS school programs are attending an intensive two-day leadership conference this week at Simmons College. The focus is on advancing three key goals of our Acceleration Agenda: MCAS proficiency for all, closing achievement and access gaps, and graduating students prepared for college and career success.

The theme of this year's conference is "Building Schools of Excellence: Meeting the Needs of All Students." On Wednesday, our school leaders heard from Kati Haycock, the president of the Education Trust. Haycock is the former executive vice president of the Children's Defense Fund, and has spent years advocating for the kinds of educational improvements that are underway right now in Boston. She told our principals and headmasters that the United States still has a long way to go towards closing the achievement gaps that still separate students of different ethnic backgrounds. Despite successful trends in elementary education around the country, Haycock pointed to other data that shows the gaps are wider than ever in U.S. high schools. Her challenge to BPS was a call to intervene early for all children, so our educators can ensure that every child in Boston has access to great teachers and a promising future.

On Thursday, Derrick Ashong spoke about his own personal journey to achieve success in the United States. Ashong is a native of Ghana, West Africa, and came to the U.S. with his family during a period of profound government upheaval at home. He is the founder of Take Back the Mic, a youth-centered cultural movement that encourages young people to take leadership in art, society, business and politics.

The Leadership Conference is designed to help our principals and headmasters learn from each other and have access to nationally-renowned education experts. In a series of break-out classes, our school leaders learned about creating high-quality programs for English Language Learners; building stronger, student-focused teacher teams using data analysis as a guide; closing achievement gaps; helping teachers become leaders and mentors for their colleagues; engaging families in school communities; and fostering school atmospheres that discourage bullying and make students feel more confident.