Friday, December 28, 2007

Pick up your copy of "Introducing the BPS 2008"

Just in time for school registration for next year, Introducing the Boston Public Schools 2008 is now available. This publication provides valuable information about the school registration and assignment process, transportation services, district programs and policies, school profiles, and much more. Copies in English are being delivered this week to all Family Resource Centers, libraries and community centers. Translations in seven other languages will be available in early January.

Abdoul Diallo is featured as an "A+ Student"

Abdoul Diallo, a senior at Boston International High School who was featured in an earlier post on this blog, is quickly becoming a media darling. First he was profiled in the Dorchester Reporter. Then last night, WCVB Channel 5 News highlighted Abdoul in their "A+ Student" segment. (Visit the WCVB website to watch the video on-line.) All this media attention is well-deserved: Abdoul is at the top of his class, is captain of the soccer team, and has volunteered in community service projects throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Boston Debate League featured on CityLine

Members of the Boston Debate League were featured recently on WCVB Channel 5 CityLine. Host Karen Holmes Ward highlighted the group as part of a story about the upcoming film The Great Debaters, about a champion debate team from a historically black college in the 1930s. The Boston league, which includes teams from six Boston public high schools, will host two debate events in January: a tournament on January 12 and a special public debate in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. on January 19. The league is also featured in today's Boston Herald.

BLS jazz pianist headed to GRAMMY Week

Jake Sherman, a senior at Boston Latin School, has been selected to perform in the prestigious 2008 Gibson/Baldwin GRAMMY Jazz Band. An accomplished jazz pianist, Jake is one of only 18 high school students from around the country selected for the group. The GRAMMY Jazz Ensemble program selects top high school instrumentalists and singers to receive college scholarships and an all-expenses-paid trip to perform in the Jazz Choir, Band, or Combo at GRAMMY Awards Week events in Los Angeles in February.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Boston schools are invited to become pilot schools

Superintendent Carol R. Johnson has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) inviting Boston public schools to consider becoming pilot schools. The collective bargaining agreement between the Boston School Committee and the Boston Teachers Union allows for the creation of up to seven new pilot schools. These schools are part of the Boston Public Schools but operate with autonomy from many district and union regulations, similar to charter schools.

The school district and the teachers' union will co-host an information session for principals and teachers, featuring a panel of educators from schools that have become pilots: Friday, January 4, at 4:00 p.m., in the Boston Teachers Union Hall, 180 Mount Vernon St., Dorchester.

Boston is now home to 18 pilot schools, two Horace Mann Charter Schools, and one Commonwealth pilot school. Together, these schools serve more than 7,000 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The schools have autonomy over budget, staffing, governance, curriculum, and the school calendar to meet the needs of students and families.

Speaking of pilot schools, Boston's newest pilot school -- formerly known as the Thomas Gardner Extended Services School in Allston -- got an official name change last night. The School Committee approved the school's request to be named Gardner Pilot Academy. Pictured here are students in Ms. Thomas' fourth grade classroom receiving new books at the Gardner's recent Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) event, featuring community and district leaders serving as guest readers.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

200th posting on this blog...

This entry marks the 200th posting on the "All About BPS" blog since it was launched in October 2006. In the past nine months alone, there have been more than 33,000 visits to the site. Thank you for visiting to learn more about the exciting work taking place in the Boston Public Schools! And don't forget to post comments to extend congratulations, ask a question, or offer your perspective about what you read here.

Tyrone Figueroa one of Fox 25's Top Ten

Fox 25 Sports has named East Boston High School senior Tyrone Figueroa one of the Top 10 High School Football Players this season. Tyrone ended the season with 25 touchdowns, leading the Jets to the Division 3A Super Bowl after winning the Boston North division. Earlier this week, the Boston Herald named Tyrone, who is an Honors student, to the Fall All-Scholastic Team. Between now and January 1, fans can vote on-line at the Fox 25 website for Tyrone to be named the Primetime Player of the Year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday, December 14: All Boston Public Schools CLOSED

Superintendent Carol R. Johnson announced tonight that all Boston Public Schools will be closed on Friday, December 14. All BPS central offices, including Family Resource Centers, will be open during normal business hours. Dr. Johnson issued a statement to all BPS students, families, and staff, apologizing for the late bus arrivals on Thursday afternoon and evening caused by traffic gridlocks. Mayor Thomas M. Menino directed all Boston Centers for Youth and Families community centers to open at 7:30 a.m. on Friday morning to offer Boston parents a safe place to take their children if needed.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13: All afternoon/evening activities cancelled

Due to weather conditions, all after school and evening activities in the Boston Public Schools are cancelled for Thursday, December 13, including all athletic events and the "Graduation for All" community forum (rescheduled to Thursday, January 10, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m., East Boston High School). Afternoon/evening classes at Boston Day and Evening Academy and Boston Adult Technical Academy are cancelled. Any parent or legal guardian may opt to pick up his or her child from school earlier than the regular dismissal time. Please note that yellow school buses may be delayed because of traffic and road conditions.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Two BPS students "testify" before U.S. Supreme Court

Two Boston Public Schools students recently had the opportunity to learn about the U.S. Supreme Court and Constitution from the experts themselves: justices of the nation’s highest court. Moriah Smith of Dorchester, a junior at Boston Latin Academy, and Adeoye Owolewa of Roxbury, a senior at Boston Latin School, were selected to meet with justices in the marble corridors of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., as part of the Constitution Project, designed to expand understanding of the nation’s democratic institutions and coordinated by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Pictured here at the Supreme Court building, left to right, are Bolade Owolewa (Adeoye's mother), Adeoye and Moriah.

Friday, December 07, 2007

John D. O'Bryant named Vanguard Model

The John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science is the only school in the state named a Vanguard Model this year for its accelerated rates of student achievement and participation in Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Mass Insight Education & Research Institute selected the O'Bryant and two school districts -- Harwich and Revere -- as models to be replicated throughout Massachusetts. Four other Boston schools, as well as the district itself, have been named Vanguard Models since the program began in 2001.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Kenny marching band tuning up for First Night

The Kenny Elementary School marching band is busy rehearsing for its first appearance in the grand procession for First Night Boston on New Year's Eve. WBZ-TV News entertainment reporter Joyce Kulhawik featured the marching musicians in a segment on tonight's newscast.

Women's World Cup Soccer champs surprise BLA student

A group of celebrity visitors participated in an assembly at Boston Latin Academy this morning to surprise senior Maria Centeio with a special honor. Members of the 1999 Women's World Cup Championship soccer team joined Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Superintendent Carol Johnson in presenting Maria with the "Kevin W. Fitzgerald Giving Back Award," named in memory of the former state representative who died in September. Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly and other members of the World Cup team will be inducted tonight into the Hall of Fame at Northeatern Univerity's Center for Sport in Society. (Pictured here, left to right, are Mayor Menino, Ms. Lilly, Ms. Foudy, Maria Centeio and Ms. Chastain.)

Born in the Cape Verde islands off the west coast of Africa, Maria moved to the United States when she was five years old. A member of the Class of 2008 at Boston Latin Academy, she hopes to attend Yale University next fall. Maria was recognized for her extraordinary community service. She sits on the board of two non-profit organizations in Roxbury: the Cape Verdean Community Unido and the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. She is also president of the Uphams Corner Youth Council, a founding member of the Dudley Youth Council, and state historian for the Massachusetts Junior Classical League. Maria is a member of her school's yearbook committee and the National Honor Society. She also finds time to tutor younger students in math, Latin, and Spanish and administers competitive Latin contests.

A four-year varsity soccer player, Maria participated in Sport in Society’s Junior Coaches Academy in 2006 and attended the World Scholar Athlete Games, where she met student athletes from 156 different countries. “It seems as if I’ve lived a lifetime of exploration and excitement, but I know this is just the beginning,” said Centeio of her experiences.
Related post: Brandi Chastain on why sports are critical for young girls.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Vote on-line to support E. Greenwood playground

Boston is competing with nine other finalist cities in the Change the World. Start at Home community makeover contest presented by the HGTV cable network. If selected, the Boston entry would support the transformation of an asphalt-covered parking lot into a playground and green space for students at the Elihu Greenwood Elementary School in Hyde Park. The project also would help renovate the Hyde Park home of Beverly and Manny DePina, who are active in the community and have opened their home to more than 50 foster children in need over the past 30 years. To learn more about the proposed projects, click here.

Please vote here now. You may vote as often as once per day between now and December 21. The four cities with the highest number of votes will be announced during the Rose Parade coverage on January 1.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Brighton High Bengals capture division title

The Brighton High School Bengals capped off an undefeated season with a victory yesterday in the Division 4 Super Bowl. The high school boys' football team defeated West Bridgewater 16-8 at Stonehill College. See coverage in the Boston Herald and Globe, as well as a column by Dan Shaughnesey about the team's perseverence. (Globe Staff Photo by Essdras M. Suarez)

Congratulations also to the East Boston Jets for a great season, which ended yesterday in a 19-6 loss to Greater Lawrence in the Division 3A Super Bowl.

Friday, November 30, 2007

U.S. News & World Report names Boston Latin one of America's best

In its first ranking of the 100 Best High Schools in America, U.S. News & World Report has recognized Boston Latin School as one of the best in the country. The study released today – which examines a variety of factors about a school’s ability to prepare students for college – ranks BLS number 19 on the list. The December issue of the magazine features a slide show of Boston Latin School (pictured here: Angela Liu, Class of 2010). A sidebar about the school cites its 22 Advanced Placement course offerings, “perhaps the largest selection of any high school in Massachusetts.” Four other Massachusetts high schools made the top 100: Weston High School (#60), Dover-Sherborn Regional High School (#65), Wellesley Senior High School (#70) and Media and Technology Charter School (#99).

In addition to the 100 high schools awarded gold medals, the magazine commended an additional 405 schools around the country with silver medals, including Boston Latin Academy and the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science. Six other Boston Public Schools were among the 1,086 schools awarded bronze medals: Another Course to College, Boston Community Leadership Academy, Brighton High School, Charlestown High School, Snowden International High School, and TechBoston Academy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More than 1,000 BPS seniors are Adams Scholars

A record number of Boston Public Schools seniors -- more than 1,000 members of the Class of 2008 -- are eligible for free tuition at any public college in Massachusetts because of their performance on the MCAS exams. The students all qualified for the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship, sponsored by the Department of Education and Board of Higher Education. The number of BPS students qualifying has increased steadily since the awards were first given, from 724 scholars in 2005 to 1,036 this year -- nearly 1 in 4 seniors. To qualify for the scholarship, students had to score in the Advanced category (Level 4) on either the English Language Arts or Math sections of the MCAS exams and in at least Proficient (Level 3) on the other. Also, the students’ scores had to rank in the top 25% of the district.

Pictured here is Adams Scholar Abdoul Diallo, a senior at Boston International High School. Abdoul immigrated to the U.S. from Burkina Faso in Western Africa in 2004 to live with his two sisters, who had come to this country several years earlier, in order to get a strong education. A resident of Dorchester, Abdoul has emerged as a leader and a scholar during his three years at BIHS. He has been an Honors student, Class President, and an All-Star soccer player (this year, his team advanced to the State quarter-finals). Abdoul has the highest grade point average in his class (3.8). On the Grade 10 MCAS exams, which he took just six months after arriving in America, he scored Proficient in English and Advanced in Math. Abdoul has applied to many colleges in the Boston area and out of state and is considering studying Marine Biology. Abdoul also performs a great deal of community service in other states and countries. He participated in a Katrina recovery mission to Biloxi, Mississippi, and New Orleans. He helped build a playground for an orphanage in St. Croix and housing through Habitat for Humanity in Honduras.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Two BPS high schools in football playoffs

Two high school football teams from the Boston Public Schools will compete tomorrow in the semifinals of their divisions. At 4:00 in Wayland, the Brighton High School Bengals will play Manchester Essex to advance to the Division 4 championship. The East Boston High School Jets will take on Blue Hills Regional Technical School in the Division 3A semifinals in a 5:00 game at Stonehill College. Keep up with the tournament on the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) website. Good luck, teams!
UPDATE (November 28): Both teams won! East Boston defeated Blue Hills 38-34. Brighton beat Manchester Essex 28-7. Congratulations! The teams now advance to the division championships. The Super Bowl schedule for Saturday, December 1 is as follows:
Division 3A, Greater Lawrence vs. East Boston, 9:30 a.m., Gillette Stadium, Foxboro
Division 4, West Bridgewater vs. Brighton, 11 a.m., Stonehill College, Easton

PJ Kennedy students "trick or treat" for UNICEF

Students at the Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary School in East Boston recently raised $758 for the "Trick or Treat for UNICEF" campaign. In their fifth year of fund-raising for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, the students collected more money than ever before. By watching the UNICEF videos "Kids Helping Kids" and "Just Like Me", students learned about UNICEF efforts to relieve hunger, vaccinate, shelter, educate, and provide clean drinking water for children in countries around the world. The project is coordinated by the school's computer teacher, Myra Sussman. Pictured here are grade 5 students (left to right) Jairon Arias, Joel Ramos, Joseline Posada, and Annamaria D'Argenio.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Boston Teacher Residency featured in Edutopia

The latest edition of Edutopia magazine features an article about 10 innovative teacher preparation programs, including the Boston Teacher Residency program. The Edutopia website features a slide show of the program.

"At the heart of reform in teacher preparation are innovations that provide extensive field experience and link theory more closely with practice. Programs such as Boston's go the furthest by transporting the locus of training almost entirely from the university to the K-12 school."

Pictured here on the cover of the November issue is Derek Allen, who is doing his mathematics residency at the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown. The issue also includes an interview with former BPS Superintendent Tom Payzant.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Please join us to ensure "graduation for all"

Superintendent Carol R. Johnson and the Boston School Committee are hosting "Graduation for All," a community forum series to engage families, educators and citizens in discussion about how to eliminate the high school dropout challenge and ensure that all students graduate. The first session is a citywide youth forum to hear students' perspectives on why some young people drop out of school and which supports and strategies are most effective to help them stay in school. Three other forums are scheduled throughout the city. For a complete schedule and additional information about the community forum series, please visit the BPS website.

Kudos for BPS principals

Several Boston Public Schools principals were honored recently for leadership in their schools and their communities.

Michael Rubin (pictured here), Headmaster of East Boston High School, was honored recently at the Community Awards Dinner hosted by Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. (ABCD).

El Planeta newspaper has named Almudena (Almi) Abeyta, Principal of the McKay K-8 School in East Boston, as well as Carmen Torres and Linda Nathan, Co-Headmasters of Boston Arts Academy, among the 100 Most Influential People in the Massachusetts for the Latino Community.

The Boston Minuteman Council of the Boy Scouts of America presented a Crystal Apple Award to Deborah Dancy, Principal of the Channing Elementary School in Hyde Park.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Former BPS teacher wins National Caring Award

Dominic Avellani, who retired in 2005 after teaching in the Boston Public Schools for 33 years, has been named one of five winners of the 2007 National Caring Award, sponsored by The Caring Institute, a nonprofit organization which promotes the values of public service. Avellani founded the East Boston Adult Education Center, which helps immigrants, refugees, and high school dropouts learn English and further their education. Avellani was featured in a profile in Saturday's Boston Globe.

Tynan students send 1,000 paper cranes to Japan

Fourth grade students at the Joseph P. Tynan Elementary School in South Boston today mailed 1,000 paper cranes and their own Haiku poems about peace to Japan in remembrance of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Teachers Phyllis Simon and Shawn O'Neill have been teaching the events of World War II through the book Sadako, about a young girl who lived in Japan when the atom bomb was dropped. The Tynan students mailed their cranes and poems to the Mayor of Hiroshima, accompanied by letters from the students and from Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and asked that the cranes be placed at the statue of Sadako in the Hiroshima Peace Park. Pictured here are Christine Nguyen (left) and Kayla McColgan.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Media High School students organize "walk-in" over Jena 6

The racially-charged incidents in Jena, Louisiana, last year, have prompted students in communities across the country to protest by staging "walk outs" from school. Here in Boston, students from Media Communications Technology High School in the West Roxbury Education Complex are taking a different approach to promote dialogue and awareness: They've organized a “walk in” – to extend rather than shorten their learning. The event -- taking place at the school on Monday, November 19, from 2 - 6 p.m. -- will feature workshops with community-based organizations (including The City School, Voices of Liberation and Project Think Different), and “open mic” for student presentations and performances.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Liz Reilinger wins highest award for district leadership

Dr. Elizabeth Reilinger, Chairperson of the Boston School Committee, has won the nation's highest prize for urban education leadership. The Council of the Great City Schools presented Dr. Reilinger with the Richard R. Green Award at its fall conference in Nashville. The prize, which is awarded in alternating years to an urban Superintendent and School Board Member, includes a $10,000 scholarship for the winner to present to a graduate of his or her school district. Mayor Thomas M. Menino first appointed Dr. Reilinger to the School Committee in 1994, and she has been elected Chairperson of the Committee every year since 1998.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How did your school celebrate "College Month"?

Boston students of all ages are closer to becoming the college students of tomorrow, thanks to innovative programs held during the district's second annual College Month. Throughout the month of October, elementary, middle and high schools helped students prepare for higher education with fun and engaging activities about college access and opportunity, including guest speakers, college and career fairs, visits to area colleges and universities, and more. (Pictured here is the Class of 2007 from Another Course to College.)

We want to hear from students, teachers, parents and administrators: How did your school celebrate College Month? Post a comment here about the programs that are helping to put Boston Public Schools students on the path to college...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Excel High wins "School on the Move" Prize

Excel High School is the winner of the 2nd Annual "School on the Move" Prize created in honor of former Superintendent Thomas W. Payzant. EdVestors presented the $100,000 award after a panel of judges selected Excel, one of three small schools in the South Boston Education Complex, as the most improved school in the district. The school was featured recently on Neighborhood Network News. Boston Community Leadership Academy and the Noonan Business Academy each will receive $25,000 as finalists for the prize. Pictured here at the gala celebration, left to right, are: Laura Perille, EdVestors Executive Director; former Superintendent Michael Contompasis; Excel High School Headmaster Ligia Noriega; Mayor Thomas M. Menino; Superintendent Carol R. Johnson; and Dr. Payzant.

Apply to serve on the Boston School Committee

The Boston School Committee Nominating Panel is seeking applicants for two positions on the School Committee. The 13-member panel screens applicants in order to recommend finalists to Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who will appoint members to serve a four-year term beginning in January 2008. Applicants must be residents of Boston. The deadline to submit applications is Friday, November 9.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New science lab for Fenway High School

Thanks to an innovative partnership with the Pfizer Research Technology Center, Fenway High School has a new science laboratory. In a ribbon-cutting ceremony today, Mayor Menino and Superintendent Johnson joined Pfizer officials and Fenway administrators, faculty and students to unveil the new high-tech learning space. Several years ago, Pfizer staff and scientists visited the school to judge a science fair, and since then the pharmaceutical company has remained an active partner in the school. Pictured here, ninth graders Shaquana Mathis of Dorchester (white jacket) and Karie Everrett of Roxbury demonstrate the new laboratory equipment.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Turner Broadcasting trains Boston students in new media technology

Mayor Menino and Boston Public Schools officials today announced a new partnership with Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., to provide Boston high school students with training in new technology created by Turner to webcast sporting events and other live activities. Media Communications Technology High School in the West Roxbury Education Complex is the pilot site for the project, which will be expanded to other schools during the three-year partnership. Students and teachers from Media High participated in intensive training in Turner's "PlayON!" technology before covering their first event, a recent high school football game at White Stadium. Students also directed and filmed the news conference announcing the partnership at their school. Pictured here, senior Brandon Harrington operates a camera at the event. For additional photos, click here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Reasons to celebrate...

* Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Massachusetts presented a "Best in Class" award to the Mario Umana Middle School Academy for outstanding nutrition, fitness and health programs. The school received $2,500 to support its work.

* Kennietha Jones, principal of the Mildred Avenue Middle School, was honored recently at the 2nd annual Gateway to Boston Gala sponsored by the Mattapan Community Development Corporation.

* The School Committee recently presented citations to two school police officers, Officer Gabriel Rosa and Sergeant Kenneth Jackson, for saving the life of a South Boston Education student who was choking.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Carter School opens Sensory Garden Outdoor Classroom

Students, staff, families and supporters of the William E. Carter School gathered today for the dedication and ribbon cutting of the school's new sensory garden and outdoor classroom. The 16,450-square-foot garden is designed to create sensory appeal and learning motivation for students who are educationally challenged by severe cognitive and developmental disabilities.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Two Boston teachers win surprise Milken Awards

Yesterday teachers from two Boston public high schools attended school assemblies thinking they were there to meet the new Superintendent. Instead, they were called on stage to receive $25,000 Milken Family Foundation Educator Awards. Students and colleagues cheered as Anne Clark, an English teacher at the Boston Arts Academy, and Matthew Dugan, a Science teacher at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, accepted their prizes -- two of only 80 distinguished educators around the country receiving the award this year. The educators -- the ninth and tenth BPS Milken recipients -- were celebrated in local media, including the front page of the Boston Globe (photos courtesy of, the Boston Herald, New England Cable News, and other outlets.

MCAS scores on the rise

Boston Public Schools students demonstrated improvement in nearly every subject and grade level on the Spring 2007 MCAS exams, outpacing State gains almost across the board. State and City officials announced individual district and school results at the Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School, which made significant progress. Student performance on the Grade 10 exams continued to climb, with more than half of all students now scoring at the two highest levels in English Language Arts and Mathematics.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mike Contompasis begins new chapter after BPS

Friday, September 28 marked Michael Contompasis' last day as an employee of the Boston Public Schools, after more than 42 years of service as a teacher, Headmaster, Chief Operating Officer, and Superintendent. Central office staff -- pictured here, clad in purple in honor of Boston Latin School -- gathered to thank and congratulate Mike on his countless contributions to the school district and the city. His retirement from the Boston Public Schools, however, does not mean the end of Mike's public service. On Friday, Mayor Thomas M. Menino appointed Mike as Director of Intergovernmental Relations and External Affairs for the City of Boston.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Superintendent maps out her first 100 days

Superintendent Carol Johnson presented the Boston School Committee with a preliminary entry plan for her first 100 days in office, spanning the end of August through the middle of January. The plan outlines her action steps for learning more about the district and prioritizing the work ahead, including plans to engage families and the community. In her first month on the job, Dr. Johnson already has visited 34 schools (almost one-quarter of the district's 144), and she emphasized the importance of school visits as part of her "listening and learning" tour. Pictured here, Dr. Johnson visits the Haynes Early Education Center to participate in JumpStart's "Read for the Record" campaign.

South Boston Class of '52 returns to high school

Members of the Class of 1952 from South Boston High School recently returned to the neighborhood for a nostalgic 55th reunion, featuring a guided tour of their alma mater. The alumni were welcomed back to the building by students and staff from Excel High School, one of three small high schools that now make up the South Boston Education Complex. Students, including members of the school's ROTC program, escorted the visitors through classrooms, the gymnasium, and the newly dedicated "Doc" Reid Library.

School Committee, Superintendent examine new dropout data

Superintendent Carol Johnson and former Superintendent Michael Contompasis presented a "Graduation for All" update to the School Committee last night, highlighting efforts to reduce the dropout rate and ensure that all BPS students earn a high school diploma. The report provided preliminary findings from an extensive study commissioned by the district in partnership with The Parthenon Group, the Gates Foundation and Jobs for the Future, about students who have dropped out, as well as risk factors to help predict and prevent other dropouts. Dr. Johnson and the School Committee announced that the district will conduct a community engagement campaign over the next several months to present the data to the community and host conversations about strategies to address this citywide challenge.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nine BPS principals named Schott Fellows

Nine Boston Public Schools principals have been selected as Principal Fellows by the Schott Fellowship. The fellowship recognizes and supports principals as they strengthen early care and education for children in Boston. All nine lead schools that are expanding early childhood education offerings, and they will share their successes and learn from one another through the fellowship. The fellows began meeting this summer with a professional development institute coordinated by the National Association for Elementary School Principals and will continue to meet throughout the year.

Pictured here (click to enlarge), front row, left to right, Patricia Butler (BPS Dept. of Early Childhood), Vera Johnson (Mendell ES), Alenor Abdal-Kallaq (Mather ES), Nora Toney (Ellison Parks EES), Ben Russell (East Zone ELC); second row, Valerie Gumes (Haynes EEC), Sherry Brooks-Roberts (Lyndon K-8), Suzanne Federspiel (Kenny ES), Catherine Constant (Holmes ES); back row, Dr. Valora Washington (Executive Director, Schott Fellowship), Marice Diakite (P.J. Kennedy ES).

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Timilty teacher appointed to national Advisory Council

Darren Wells, a Science teacher at the Timilty Middle School, has been appointed to the National Academies' Teacher Advisory Council, comprised of 12-15 elementary, middle and high school teachers from around the country. The academies serve as advisors to the National Research Council on science, engineering and medicine. In 2005, Mr. Wells won the Ambassadors in Education Award from the MetLife Foundation.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Chef raises the bar for BPS school lunches

Boston recently unveiled an ambitious new Healthy Meals Initiative to make school lunch more nutritious and delicious, with help from a professional chef. Kirk Conrad left a distinguished career in the private sector to cook full-time in the Umana and Frederick middle schools cafeterias. Mr. Conrad is also working closely with Food & Nutrition Services staff and cafeteria managers throughout the district to develop creative and healthy ways to prepare and present meals. Mayor Menino recently joined officials from BPS and the Boston Public Health Commission to announce the initiative at the Umana Middle School Academy. (Photo credit: Patricia McDonnell, Boston Globe)

Massachusetts receives major grant to expand AP offerings

Governor Deval Patrick recently joined other State and City officials to announce a $13.2 million grant to the Commonwealth over the next six years to provide more Massachusetts public school students with access to rigorous, college-preparatory coursework. Following a highly competitive application process, the Commonwealth and Boston non-profit Mass Insight Education and Research Institute secured one of the first-ever grants from the National Math and Science Initiative's (NMSI) Advanced Placement® training and incentive program.

In brief...

* Two BPS school leaders have been named recipients of the 2007 Henry L. Shattuck Public Service Awards from the Boston Municipal Research Bureau. Congratulations to Domenic Amara, principal of the Warren Prescott K-8 School, and Gerald Howland, former headmaster of Another Course to College. They will be honored along with six other City of Boston employees in a ceremony next month.

* With a grant from Very Special Arts (VSA) Massachusetts, third grade students at the Trotter Elementary School have created "sound poems." The children wrote poems in their Readers & Writers Workshops and then worked with VSA jazz musician Tony DuBlois, who is blind and autistic, to record the poems in their own voice. The poems will soon be on display at City Hall and are now posted on the web.

* Kim Rice, CIO of the Boston Public Schools, is interviewed in a special edition of Digital Directions, published by Education Week, about Boston's work in instructional technology.

* Bill Horwath, Staffing Director for the BPS Office of Human Resources, has been accepted into the Broad Residency for Urban Education. Bill joins seven other Broad Residents currently working in BPS. The program places talented early career executives from the private or civic sectors into two-year, full-time, paid positions at the top levels of urban school systems across the country.

Globe columnists highlights Boston school gems

Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham recently wrote about the "surprising and too-well-kept secret that a growing number of the city's schools are inspiring cultish devotion among parents who just a few years ago might have shunned them." The column quotes parents who have chosen lesser-known Boston Public Schools over private and parochial schools for their strong academic and extra-curricular programs. It also hihglights Y/BPS, an innovative partnership among the Mayor's Office, school district, and Greater Boston YMCA, to encourage more families to consider BPS for their children's education.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

First day of school in Boston

Today is the first day of the 2007-2008 school year in the Boston Public Schools. Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Superintendent Carol R. Johnson, School Committee Chair Elizabeth Reilinger, and former Superintendent Michael Contompasis visited three schools this morning to present students with new pencils and to greet families and staff. The slide show above features photos from the English High School in Jamaica Plain, Hernandez K-8 School in Roxbury, and the Eliot K-8 School in the North End.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Carol Johnson in the media spotlight

Dr. Carol Johnson spent the day yesterday introducing herself to members of the Boston media, conducting interviews with print, radio and television reporters about her educational philosophy and experience, as well as her entry plan for her first 90 days on the job as the new Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. See stories in the Boston Globe and South End News, listen to audio on WBUR Radio and watch video clips on Fox 25, WBZ-TV 4, and New England Cable News. Pictured here, Dr. Johnson welcomes two new kindergarten students to the annual Countdown to Kindergarten celebration at the Boston Children's Museum. Click here for additional photos from the event.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

It's almost back-to-school time!

On Thursday, September 6, the Boston Public Schools will welcome nearly 57,000 students and their families back to school for the 2007-2008 academic year. The BPS website features important information for parents, students and staff about the start of the school year, including the back-to-school hotline (617-635-9046), calendar, school hours, school bus safety tips, a video welcome message from the new Superintendent, events and activities hosted by Countdown to Kindergarten, and more. Have a great start to a wonderful school year ahead!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

BPS welcomes nearly 500 new teachers

Nearly 500 teachers began their careers in the Boston Public Schools today, with the kickoff of the three-day New Teacher Institute at UMass Boston. The educators include teachers new to the profession, as well as veteran teachers coming to Boston from other school districts. Mayor Menino, School Committee Vice Chair Marchelle Raynor, Superintendent Contompasis, Boston Teachers Union President Richard Stutman and incoming Superintendent Carol Johnson welcomed the teachers in an opening ceremony. Watch video clips on New England Cable News and WBZ-TV. Photo of Dr. Johnson by Nathan Fried-Lipski, Boston Metro.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Boston teacher "blasts off" to Space Camp

Wilma Marrero-Crespo is well prepared to teach her students at the Lewenberg Middle School about space travel this year, thanks to her participation in a week-long astronaut adventure. Ms. Marrero-Crespo, a math, science and social studies teacher, was one of only three teachers from the Boston area to be selected for the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy program, which sends teachers to space camp to help them engage students in math and science learning.

Ms. Marrero-Crespo was among 268 educators from 21 countries and 43 U.S. states who traveled to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama earlier this summer for a week packed with 50 hours of classroom, laboratory and field training. Teachers had the opportunity to participate in real-life astronaut training exercises, including a high-performance jet simulation, scenario-based space missions, land and water survival training, and a state-of-the-art flight dynamics programs.

ACC students study in Ghana

Six students from Another Course to College (ACC) recently returned from a two-week trip to Ghana, West Africa, as part of a cultural exchange program between ACC and the Achimota Secondary School, a boarding school in Ghana’s capitol city of Accra. The students, all members of the Class of 2008, spent two weeks immersed in the culture and history of Ghana, living with Ghanaian students in dormitories and attending classes at the school. The Boston students made day trips outside the city, met with U.S. embassy officials, visited museums and historic sites, and participated in workshops on traditional Ghanaian arts, crafts, music and dancing. They also had the opportunity to spend several nights living with Ghanaian host families. ACC teacher Bethany Wood, who was recently named a 2007 Boston Educator of the Year, spent a school year at Achimota as part of a Fulbright exchange, and organized the trip for her students. Pictured here, left to right, are ACC students in traditional Ghanaian dress: John Gilmore, Matt Ruggiero, Terah Jackson, Eliza Williams, Alanna Loring-Donahue and Dejon Rice.

Dorchester High School examined in new book

The former Dorchester High School is the subject of New Hope for Urban High Schools, a new book co-authored by Dr. Jack Leonard, Headmaster of Noonan Business Academy, and Dr. Lisa Gonsalves, Assistant Professor at the Graduate College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The authors provide a case study of the former Dorchester High School in the context of national and local history from 1945 to 2006, including the 2003 redesign of the building into three small schools. They offer lessons learned and recommendations for urban high school reform work. The book is available from Greenwood Publishing Group.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pay tribute to Michael Contompasis

After 42 years of dedication and service to the families and staff of the Boston Public Schools, Michael Contompasis will step down later this month as Superintendent. Mike has been an integral part of the district for his entire life: as a student, teacher, Headmaster of Boston Latin School (classic archive photo pictured here), Cluster Leader, Director of Human Resources, Chief Operating Officer and Superintendent. Although Mike has had many roles, most of us know him best as mentor and friend. Please join us in thanking and congratulating Mike by posting a comment on between now and October 31. The site is designed to gather memories, reflections, and words of thanks from friends, colleagues, students, and others whose lives have been enriched by "Mr. C."

Charlestown High students learn critical Arabic language skills

Arabic is the fourth most spoken language in world, with more than 200 million people speaking it as a first language. Students at Charlestown High School are preparing to become the next generation of translators and diplomats by learning the language in a popular new Arabic program during the summer and school year led by teachers Steven Berbeco and Lama Jarudi. Charlestown High is believed to be one of fewer than 20 public schools nationwide to offer Arabic language instruction. The school's website provides details and multimedia, and the program was featured on National Public Radio. Pictured here are student calligraphy projects on display at the summer academy graduation ceremony.

Arabic, along with Chinese, Hindi, Russian, and Farsi, was recently identified by the United States government as a "critical language," one which is vital to national security and economic interest and of which there are not enough speakers. The U.S. government has committed millions of dollars through its National Security Language Initiative (NSLI) to dramatically increasing the number of Americans learning these languages. Students who completed the five-week summer academy, which was funded through a STARTALK grant, received high school credit and a $500 college scholarship.

Gardner School and Harvard Business School team up for summer fun and learning

Students from the Thomas Gardner Extended Services School in Allston have been participating in a Summer Enrichment Program thanks to a unique partnership with the Harvard Business School. The program has engaged 115 students in kindergarten through grade five in learning literacy, math, science and social studies, as well as physical recreation and the arts. The students also have taken field trips to the Museum of Science and Franklin Park Zoo.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Manny Delcarmen donates $10,000 to Grew Elementary

Boston Public Schools alumnus and Hyde Park native Manny Delcarmen, relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, recently donated $10,000 to the Henry Grew Elementary School. The donation was generated through a fundraiser held by Mr. Delcarmen earlier this year through his “Bowlin’ Strikes for Schools” charity bowling tournament held at Ron’s Gourmet Ice Cream and Bowling in Hyde Park. The money will be used to supplement the Hyde Park school’s library and the school district’s athletics offerings. Mr. Delcarmen attended Boston Public Schools from Kindergarten all the way through graduation from West Roxbury High School in 2000. He made his major league debut in 2005. Pictured here, left to right: Red Sox mascot Wally, Superintendent Michael Contompasis, Grew Principal Ronald Jackson, Manny Delcarmen, Manny’s wife Ana Delcarmen, and from Hyde Park Cooperative Bank, President and Chief Operating Officer Carol McClintock and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Norman B. Williamson.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Superintendent announces personnel appointments

Superintendent Michael G. Contompasis has announced senior personnel appointments for the upcoming school year, including many principals and headmasters, as well as senior central office staff. Six of the 19 newly appointed principals and headmasters are graduates of the Boston Principal Fellowship, Boston's one-year principal certification program. Pictured here is Janet Palmer-Owens, former principal of the Samuel Mason Pilot Elementary School in Roxbury, who will become Acting Assistant Superintendent for Triad A.

Laura Bush Foundation supports Holmes library

The Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries recently awarded a $5,000 grant to the Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary School in Dorchester. The Holmes, one of only two schools in Massachusetts to receive a grant from the foundation, will use the funds to expand its collection of books, particularly books for young boys to engage them in reading. The Laura Bush Foundation awarded nearly $1.3 million to libraries around the country this year.