Monday, March 31, 2008

Nominate BPS employees who go "above and beyond"

We all know people who go the extra mile to make a difference in the lives of Boston's children and families. This is your chance to say "thank you" to those special Boston Public Schools employees -- teachers, principals, secretaries, custodians, cafeteria workers, central office staff, and others -- who go out of their way to help and serve.

Every year, Mayor Menino, the Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teachers Union honor an impressive group of Boston Educators of the Year. For information about how to nominate a teacher, paraprofessional, nurse, or other BTU member, visit the BPS website. The deadline is April 15. You can also read about last year's winners, including Ismael Valenzuela from the Irving Middle School, pictured here.

The district has reinstated the Service Excellence Awards this year to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of both school-based and non-school-based employees. Any member of the BPS community -- colleagues, parents, students and others -- may submit nominations by April 30.

These awards will be presented at a joint ceremony on June 23.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Murphy students' imaginations earn honors

Third grade students from the Richard J. Murphy K-8 School (pictured here with coach Catherine Pienta) represented Boston well in the recent Destination ImagiNation Tournament. The team earned Third Place in the annual competition held this year at Beverly High School. Destination ImagiNation is a national program that challenges teams of students to work together in a short period of time to apply creativity, critical thinking and talent to solve a problem. Students do not know in advance what challenge they will face and have only eight minutes to develop a solution using limited materials.

At this year’s competition, the Murphy School team had to create and present a theatrical performance with an original story about a myth, urban legend or folk tale and create a “myth-ecol” replica from recyclable materials. Learn more about the Murphy students' project.

Raise money for your school at the "Nike 5K for Kids"

NIKETOWN and the Boston Public Schools have teamed up again this year to promote the "NIKE 5K for Kids" Run/Walk Fund-Raiser: Saturday, May 31, beginning at 8 a.m. at Franklin Park, Playstead Field. Entrants can run or walk the 5K (3.1 mile) or 1 mile course. Parents, grandparents, children, educators, and community members are invited to participate in this family-friendly event. Assemble a team or run as an individual. Proceeds from every entry fee will support physical education and athletic programs at the Boston-area school of your choice.

Register by May 23 online or at the NIKETOWN store on the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets in the Back Bay.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Orchard Gardens to be featured on "Word Generation" website

The Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP) is working with the Boston Public Schools to improve reading comprehension among middle school students. Several BPS schools are serving as pilot sites for SERP's Word Generation vocabulary program, including the middle school academy at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Roxbury.

SERP has begun to create an online professional development website that features videos of classrooms, interviews with teachers, students, and administrators, samples of student work, teacher lesson plans, research about Word Generation, and more. SERP has selected the middle school academy at Orchard Gardens to be featured on the site. Matt Ellinger, Director of Multimedia Development (and former teacher and administrator), will visit Orchard Gardens next week to videotape Word Generation in action in classrooms. Once posted on the web, the work will serve as a model for teachers and students around the world.

What are you doing this summer?

Now is the time to register for summer programs for your child. Programs throughout Greater Boston offer children of all ages safe, fun academic, enrichment and recreational activities. To learn more, pick up a copy of the popular BPS publications Summer Stuff (for students in grades 6-12) and Summer Stuff Jr. (for K-5). These publications list hundreds of summer camps, classes, activities, internships and job opportunities for the coming summer. They are available in all Boston Public Schools and Family Resource Centers, as well as City Hall, public libraries, YMCA branches, and Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF) community centers, and on-line.

22 BPS students earn Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards

Twenty-two Boston Public Schools students have won Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards. The winning artists attend five Boston schools: Boston Arts Academy, Boston Latin Academy, Boston Latin School, New Mission High School and Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School.

The program honors student artists from middle and high schools throughout the Commonwealth in twelve different art media, including painting, drawing, photography, and design. A panel of judges reviewed the students’ work and presented Gold Key, Silver Key and Honorable Mention awards. All individual pieces receiving a Gold Key in Massachusetts continue on to New York for national judging with the other Gold Keys for the United States in their respective age group and category.

NEHRA awards scholarships to two Boston students

The Northeast Human Resources Assocation (NEHRA) recently presented two Boston Public Schools students with college scholarships in recognition of their leadership and academic achievement.

Maria Robles of Roxbury, a senior at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School, received the $2,500 Norma Kornegay Clarke Scholarship Award. Ms. Robles is the senior class president and an active participant in many student clubs, including the JROTC program. She volunteers her time in school, tutoring other students, and outside of school with several local organizations.

Thao Nguyen of Dorchester, a senior at Excel High School, was selected for the NEHRA 2008 Medallion Scholarship Award, worth $1,000. Ms. Nguyen arrived from Vietnam in September 2004, quickly mastered English and recorded the highest grade point average of all freshmen, sophomores and juniors in her school. She has been active in many student clubs and was the first female company commander of Excel’s JROTC program. She volunteers her time outside of school assisting Vietnamese children and adults with English acquisition and started a support group for her fellow students in school to help with the transition to American culture.

Both students are the Valedictorians of their school's Class of 2008.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jim McIntyre named Superintendent of Knox County Schools

Dr. James McIntyre, Chief Operating Officer for the Boston Public Schools, has been named the next Superintendent of the Knox County Schools in Tennessee. The School Board voted last night to appoint Jim to lead the 53,000-student district. Congratulations!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

BPS officials trying to close $30 million budget gap

Faced with rising costs and declining federal, state, and private/philanthropic resources, the Boston School Committee and Superintendent Carol Johnson are trying to close a gap of $30.7 million in the Boston Public Schools budget for the 2008-2009 school year.

At last night's School Committee meeting, Dr. Johnson described an array of strategies already adopted to reduce costs and generate savings of nearly $15 million, but the district must identify another $15 million in reductions to balance the budget. The School Committee is required by law to vote on a final budget proposal at its March 26 meeting. To match expected expenditures with expected revenue, officials have said "everything is on the table," including staff layoffs and school closures if necessary.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Boston students showcase their science projects

More than 350 Boston middle and high school students participated recently in the 62nd annual BPS Citywide Science Fair at Northeastern University. Judges awarded first, second, and third prizes, as well as honorable mention, in both the junior and senior divisions, and more than 50 special awards. Pictured here, Joseph Phan of Dorchester, a sixth grade student at the Richard J. Murphy K-8 School, demonstrates his project, “The Eggs That Can Bounce.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

BPS introduces "Family Matters" quarterly newsletter

BPS families will find a new publication delivered to their homes beginning this month. The district's new quarterly newsletter, "Family Matters," is designed to strengthen home-school connections and provide families with important information and tips to help their children succeed in school. The four-page, full-color newsletter will be available online and at Family Resource Centers. The first issue focuses on MCAS testing, and also contains information about summer programs for children and BPS workshops for families. The newsletter is produced by the Communications Office and printed and mailed at no cost to the district through a partnership with 1stHour Communications. To defray costs, the firm includes in every mailing a series of commercial advertisements approved by the school district.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Easy as Pi!

Students and teachers at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science joined math enthusiasts around the world today in celebrating "Pi Day" -- March 14th, or 3/14. The Greek letter Pi (shown here), which equals 3.14159… and continues without stopping or repeating, is the mathematical symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Sporting Pi Day t-shirts (pictured below), O’Bryant teachers organized special classroom activities, including a Pi recitation contest to see how many digits of Pi students could memorize. The winning student's prize? A pie, of course!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gov. Patrick announces Reville appointment at Monument High School

Governor Deval Patrick chose Monument High School in the South Boston Education Complex as the site of a press conference today to announce the appointment of the new Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth. The Governor has appointed Paul Reville (pictured here), who currently serves as Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Education, to oversee the new Executive Office of Education. Mr. Reville is president of the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy and the editor of A Decade of Urban School Reform, a collection of studies about the Boston Public Schools.

Submit entries for the "National Night Out" Poster Contest

The Boston Police Department's Neighborhood Crime Watch Unit invites students between the ages of 5 and 18 to submit entries for the 20th annual National Night Out Poster Contest. This year, young artists are asked to create posters that promote the BPD "Text for Peace" program, which enables residents to send crime tips via text message. Winning entries may win up to $500 in savings bonds, with divisions for various grade levels. The submission deadline is May 2.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Recent good news in the Boston Public Schools...

* Ten Boston teachers have been selected for environmental research fellowships.

* Natalie Bellevue, a senior at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf, was featured on Channel 5 as an A+ student.

* Six BPS teachers have earned National Board Certification.

* AARP has awarded Community Academy $10,000 to support arts programming.