Thursday, May 31, 2007

Boston students honored in MWRA poster and writing contest

Seven Boston Public Schools students were among the winners in the 26th annual poster and writing contest sponsored by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. The following students won prizes for their artwork and essays: MacKenzie Theriault, Bradley Elementary School (poster pictured here); Socrates Candelario, Bradley Elementary School; Linda Qin, Gardner Elementary School; Francesca Violich, Quincy Elementary School; Evan Chung, Quincy Elementary School; Michael Baskin, Boston Latin School; and Olivia von den Benken, Boston Latin School.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Snowden teacher to participate in national security institute

John D. Garner of Mattapan, a U.S. History teacher at the Muriel S. Snowden International School at Copley, has been selected to participate in the "Challenges to National Security" Summer Institute for Secondary Educators at Brown University in Providence, RI. Mr. Garner joins a select group of twenty educators from across the country who will be studying international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, U.S. foreign policy, and their implications for national security. The four-day institute is designed to deepen teachers' understanding of these issues and introduce them to effective instructional strategies for engaging students.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Allston-Brighton students help create "living flag"

Nearly 400 students from 13 schools, including several Boston Public Schools in Allston/Brighton, donned red, white, and blue to help form a "living U.S. flag" in front of Brighton High School recently to commemorate the neighborhood's bicentennial. Exactly 100 years ago, in 1907, about 400 children formed a similar flag in Wilson Park as part of the centennial celebration.

Newsweek names Boston Latin a top U.S. high school

Newsweek has once again ranked Boston Latin School as one of the best public high schools in America. In its annual study, the magazine ranks BLS 78th among the top 1,200, up from 82nd last year. Founded in 1635, Boston Latin is the oldest public school in the country.

Friday, May 18, 2007

"10 Boys" initiative focuses on success of young males of color

Compared to other demographic groups, Black and Latino boys are at much greater risk of failing or dropping out of school altogether. A new initiative in a subset of Boston Public Schools is aimed at beating those odds by providing boys of color with the encouragement and support they need to achieve personal and academic success.

Dr. Ingrid Carney, Deputy Superintendent for Triad A (composed of schools in the Back Bay, Charlestown, Chinatown, East Boston, Fenway/Kenmore, North End, South Boston, and the South End), recently launched the 10 Boys Initiative, challenging the principals in these 44 schools to identify ten Black and Latino boys who passed the MCAS exam -- that is, scored "needs improvement" -- and to work intensively with them to ensure that they score "proficient" or "advanced" when they take the exams again this month. Every elementary, middle and high school in the triad has formed a 10 Boys club and engages the students regularly in a variety of academic and social activities to foster their learning and personal growth.

Pictured here are the 10th grade students at the Muriel Snowden International School at Copley, who call themselves the "Ten Kings." They have been meeting as a group for several months to prepare for the MCAS exams in the hope of earning Adams Scholarships to go on to college.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gardner teacher, Agassiz School honored for environmental education work

The Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) has presented awards to a Boston teacher and elementary school for their work in environmental education. Ian Bowles presented the Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Environmental Education to Dean Martin, a science specialist at the Thomas Gardner Extended Services School in Allston, in recognition of his work on the Gardner’s Outdoor Classroom Program. Pictured here, Mr. Martin (right) accepts the award from Secretary Bowles. Also honored was the Louis Agassiz Elementary School in Jamaica Plain, which received an award for its EarthWorks Outdoor Classroom Program. Other Boston schools that have won the award in the past include the Everett Elementary, the Farragut Elementary, the Hern├índez K-8, and Odyssey High.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

City kicks off "Boston R.O.C.K.S" youth summer campaign

Mayor Menino recently announced Boston R.O.C.K.S -- "Recreational Opportunities for City Kids" -- a coordinated summer programming campaign aimed at connecting Boston youth ages 8-14 with programs and activities. The campaign features an on-line database and dedicated phone line (617-635-KIDS) that parents and students can use to learn about more than 500 programs for Boston’s youth, including arts, sports and educational activities.

The program will include:
* extended hours and enhanced programming at the City's community centers and pool facilities;
* a “rolling recreation” mobile recreation unit, which will travel to local parks to engage youth in a variety of fun activities;
* Boston at Night: youth activities in various community centers every Friday night from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m.;
* Sports Scene: a six-week youth sports skill development program; and
* Boston Community Grants, providing additional funding to outside agencies to partner with the city in providing safe and positive summer activities for pre-teens and teenagers.

For more information, visit the City of Boston website, or call 617-635-KIDS.

MetLife honors Health Careers Academy teacher

Angela Cappucci, a Spanish teacher at Health Careers Academy, has been named an "Ambassador in Education" by the MetLife Foundation. Ms. Cappucci is one of only 23 educators nationwide selected for the $5,000 prize. The annual award recognizes secondary teachers and principals who successfully build bridges among urban schools, families, businesses, and community organizations. Previous Boston winners include Jeremiah Ford, principal of the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Darren Wells, a teacher at the Timilty Middle School; and Albert D. Holland, Headmaster of Health Careers Academy. Pictured here, Ms. Cappucci (front right) and her students prepare to deliver clothing collected for homeless women at Rosie's Place.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Six BPS teachers earn National Board Certification

Six Boston Public Schools educators recently were among only 12 teachers statewide to become National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT). National Board Certification is considered the highest credential in the teaching profession. A teacher-driven, voluntary process established by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, certification is achieved through a rigorous, performance-based assessment that typically takes one to three years to complete. As part of the process, teachers build a portfolio that includes student work samples, assignments, videotapes and a thorough analysis of their classroom teaching. Additionally, teachers are assessed on their knowledge of the subjects they teach.

Thirty-nine Boston Public Schools teachers have achieved National Board Certification to date, and BPS encourages teachers to consider becoming candidates. The Massachusetts Department of Education partially subsidizes the registration fees for teachers. Through its Center for Leadership Development, BPS works with the Boston Teachers Union to provide incentives and support for teachers pursuing National Board Certification, including reimbursement for registration fees, workshops, and support groups.

Pictured here is Timothy Scott, an Exceptional Needs Specialist in English at the McKinley Preparatory High School. The other teachers honored: Berta Rosa Berriz, Ed.D., Sumner Elementary School; Ronda Goodale, McKinley Preparatory High School; Stephanie Lynn Kitz and Kevin Qazilbash, both from the Edwards Middle School; and Dana Romanczyk, Carter Development Center.

Discovering Justice honors Mike Contompasis

BPS Superintendent Michael Contompasis was honored as a "Champion of Democracy" at a recent benefit for Discovering Justice. Students in 15 Boston Public Schools learn about the legal system and citizens' rights and responsibilities through the organization's civic education program, Children Discovering Justice, a literacy-based social studies curriculum. Mr. Contompasis (pitcured here, right) was presented the award by Dickens “Deke” Mathieu (pictured, left), an attorney and member of the Discovering Justice Board of Trustees, who was a student at Boston Latin School while Mr. Contompasis was Headmaster of the school. Mr. Contompasis, himself an alumnus of the nation's first public school, celebrates the 50th reunion of his graduating class this weekend.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A great time to thank teachers...

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, a great opportunity to thank the men and women who dedicate their careers to teaching the children of our communities. The National Education Association (NEA) has declared Tuesday, May 8, 2007 as National Teacher Day. The national Parent Teacher Association's website offers ideas for thanking and celebrating the teachers who have made the greatest impact on our lives. Consider sending a special teacher an e-mail greeting, or contribute to the nation's largest teacher thank you card. Wednesday, May 9 is also National School Nurse Day, a chance to thank school nurses for the vital role they play in schools. Superintendent Contompasis sent a Connect-Ed telephone message to all BPS families and staff about these opportunities to say thank you. Click on "comments" below to post a message about the teachers, school nurses, and other educators who have made a difference in your life.

How do you define "rigor"?

Many organizations focused on improving America's high schools have called for an emphasis on the "three new R's" -- relevance, relationships, and rigor -- to engage students and promote their success in college and beyond. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has made major investments in transforming high schools here in Boston and around the country, challenging districts, schools, and communities to adopt the "three new R's" as a framework for changing the culture of schools.

The foundation recently convened a meeting of grantees to explore the question: What is rigor? We know that schools must develop creative new approaches to challenge students in every classroom with high academic standards and college-preparatory curriculum. But what does a "rigorous" classroom look like? Do parents, students, and educators all define "rigor" the same way? We want to hear from you. Click on "comments" below to post your perspectives on the defintion and importance of rigor.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Mission Hill students build machine to put the "squeeze" on toothpaste

Putting toothpaste on a toothbrush may seem like a simple everyday task, but for a group of middle school students at the Mission Hill K-8 School, it’s become a complicated process involving marbles, magnets and even mousetraps. The group of six 7th and 8th graders competed recently in the Third Annual Rube Goldberg Machine Design Contest for Middle School Students, hosted by the Fay School in Southborough. The competition is modeled after MIT’s annual machine contest, in which young engineers create innovative and complex devices to perform simple tasks. This year’s challenge was to design a device from a set of standard materials—everything from matchbox cars to pulleys to bouncy balls—that can squeeze a precise amount of toothpaste onto a toothbrush in the most inefficient way possible, utilizing at least five steps and resulting in a final weight of 10.7 grams. The students had been experimenting with design ideas and practicing with materials since January. During the competition, they had just three hours to build it from scratch.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Horace Mann School receives $100K technology donation

A recent technology conference at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center brought more than conventioneers to the city; it also brought $100,000 worth of technology donations to the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Thirteen copanies participating in the AIIM and ON DEMAND Conferences and Expos donated brand new software with training, printers and scanners, a digital camera and a laminator, among other equipment, to support teaching and learning at the Brighton school. Pictured here: (front row, left to right) students Marcy Paye, Kristine Fren, Leonardo Reyes; (middle row) students Gary Lee, Otuis Rompson, Jorge Pireugro, Katherine Fuscolda; (back row) Jim Rooney, Executive Director, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority; Jeremiah Ford, Principal, Horace Mann School; Bill Oates, Chief Information Officer, City of Boston; Michael G. Contompasis, Superintendent, Boston Public Schools; and Kerry Gumas, President and Chief Executive Officer, Questex Media Group, Inc.

Boston Partners in Education honors Liz Reilinger

At its annual "Big Cheese Reads" gala this week, Boston Partners in Education honored Elizabeth Reilinger, Chairperson of the Boston School Committee, for her leadership in Boston's school reform work. Dr. Reilinger has chaired the School Committee since 1998 and has been a member of the appointed board since 1994. In 2004, the National School Boards Association presented Dr. Reilinger and the Boston School Committee with the first-ever Award for Urban School Board Excellence in recognition of their accomplishments in policy-making and resource allocation for the city schools. The gala celebration at the Seaport World Trade Center drew several hundred attendees to support Boston Partners in Education's volunteer programs in the Boston Public Schools, including the "Big Cheese Reads," which brings corporate and civic leaders into middle schools to talk about the value of literacy. Also honored at the gala was Ronald Logue, Chairman and CEO of State Street Corporation, for his support of Boston Partners and the public schools.

Burke alumna one step closer to her dream career

From the many applicants for the highly competitive CosmoGirl! Project 2024 Internship program, only six winners were selected nationwide, and Melissa Owumi is one of them. A 2004 graduate of the Jeremiah E. Burke High School, Melissa is now a junior at Boston College, where she majors in communications and minors in women's studies. This summer, she will work in a joint internship with CosmoGirl magazine and the National Basketball Association (NBA) in New York to pursue her dream: "In the year 2024, I truly envision myself pacing up and down the sidelines of an NBA arena, as the head coach of a National Basketball Association franchise," said Melissa. "I will be one of several female coaches to revolutionize the representation of women in a male-dominated sports league."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Boston highlighted as Strategic Communications case study

Superintendents and other district officials from nearly 40 public school districts around the country visited Boston this week for a meeting about strategic communications in public schools, sponsored by the District Management Council. The session included a case study on the strategic communications initiative in the Boston Public Schools, led by the BPS Communications Office. The meeting provided Communications Directors and other district leaders with an opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices to ensure that public schools engage families and the community in school improvement.