Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More BPS teachers get National Board Certification

Seven more BPS teachers now wear the official "National Board for Professional Teaching Standards" pin! According to the organization, teachers who achieve National Board certification have met rigorous standards through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment and a peer review.

This means we now have 45 national board-certified teachers in BPS.

The teachers who earned the certification on December 14 are: Cara Fenner at Excel High School; Kelly Garofalo, Karen McCarthy and Robert Remetti at Brighton High School; Carla McCormack at Edwards Middle School; Adam Moore, formerly of Perkins Elementary School; and Jeffrey Timberlake at Boston Teachers Union School. In addition, Whitney Weeder at the East Boston EEC renewed her certification.

Congratulations to all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

BPS family and student engagement gets kudos in new Harvard report

Our Office of Family and Student Engagement has just earned a spot in a nationally-recognized Harvard study! Heather Weiss, M. Elena Lopez and Heidi Rosenberg of the Harvard Family Research Project looked at how BPS helps parents develop the tools they need to become partners in the education of their children.
The report, called "Beyond Random Acts: Family, School and Community Engagement as an Integral Part of Education Reform," notes that BPS "promotes family engagement as a strategy to improve student outcomes through increased attendance, decreased suspension rates, and other indicators linked to student achievement."
One exciting element of the work BPS Assistant Superintendent Michele Brooks and her team have undertaken this year is the launch of a fleet of Family Learning Guides that help teachers and parents understand the expectations that are set for students in every grade and in every class.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

'Teens in Print' tackles tough issues

The latest "Teens in Print" newspaper has hit the streets and it's full of powerful articles written by BPS students. This edition explores the history of (and recent obsession with) vampires. It also contains emotional accounts of the effect that violence can have on teenagers in our city -- and how our schools have helped students cope with the pain of losing a close friend. Another article covers the debate over school uniforms, and on page 9, readers will find stirring accounts of how our students and schools value equality and diversity.

T.i.P is a citywide paper written by -- and for -- high school students, in partnership with Artists for Humanity, WriteBoston, the National Scholastic Press Association, the High School Journalism Initiative and the Boston Globe.

This week, 850,000 copies of Teens In Print are being distributed throughout our city. If you see one, please pick it up and take a few minutes to read it -- or visit right now. You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Global study names BPS one of the 'most improved school systems in the world'

A new study from the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company has named BPS one of the 20 "most improved school systems" in the world -- and just two of these school systems were in the United States (the other was Long Beach Union School District in California).

How did they pick Boston? According to the authors, the study searched for school districts that had sustained, major improvements since 1980. The 1994 Education Reform legislation and the launch of the MCAS in 1998 helped identify Massachusetts as an innovator in public education, and Boston in particular was positioned for meaningful success. The study cites the creation of the MyBPS student data system as a particularly powerful tool that has helped link teachers with critical information that can help them target lessons around individual students. (Our new, next-generation student information system is in development right now and will launch next year).

The study applauds BPS for taking bold steps to lift the number of students passing state math exams from 23 percent in 1998 to 84 percent in 2008. In reading, the passing rate jumped from 43 percent in 1998 to 91 percent in 2008.

The challenge for us now, the report says, is that BPS risks reaching a plateau. To break through it, McKinsey suggests we look to Singapore, which has "moved from rigid prescription to greater flexibility as it embarked on its good to great improvement journey."

The full report provides an unusually crisp, long-term look at education reform across the entire planet. You can read it here.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Urban Science Academy students publish first school paper

by Justin Milligan
Humanities & Journalism
Urban Science Academy

Journalism students at Urban Science Academy in West Roxbury have just published their first issue of USA Voice, the school newspaper. Their first issue was a great success and the result of much hard work and dedication. Since September, students have been studying various aspects of journalism -- the role of free press in a democracy, the ideal for objectivity, ethical considerations, media literacy skills, and various forms of news writing. Then, they went out in the community as reporters to investigate issues they felt to be relevant to the school. The staff was responsible for researching topics, conducting interviews, verifying information, peer editing drafts, and assisting in the layout and binding process. They also collaborated with Digital Photography and Yearbook students to capture images for their articles.

The first issue of USA voice covers an array of topics. For the cover story, Laurie Paris explains "Redesign and Reinvest" and its potential repercussions for our complex. In a well-researched article, Gladys Cooper investigates the increasing rate of violent crime in Boston. Sade Love interviews students and faculty about whether teens should be provided condoms to promote safe sex. Dan Carpino reports on cyberbullying and the dangers of social networking. Veteran reporter Diana Maria Rodriguez discusses the challenges that confront teenage parents. Nathalie Myrthil explains the college application process, as well as the academic history of girls outperforming boys at USA. Chris Legrand investigates high dropout rates in Boston Public, and Anthony McGruder questions whether marijuana should remain illegal. The issue also contains entertainment reviews-- Chelsea Rush gives the film Red two thumbs up, and Akeema Charles gives a five-star recommendation for Drake's new album. Finally, Haajar Penn recounts the West Roxbury Raiders' impressive 2010 football season.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Blogging 'PFAD'

Our annual "Principal for a Day" (or "PFAD" for short) was a big success -- and a few of our guests have even blogged about their experiences! Please check 'em out:

Marjorie Arons-Barron: "To understand urban education, walk in the principal's shoes"

Linda Noonan: "Principal for a Day at the Bates"

If there are other blogs out there, please let us know in the comments! We would love to be able to share your experiences with the public.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Congratulations to our School on the Move winners

Our friends at EdVestors have named the Joseph Lee Elementary School in Dorchester as the recipient of the 5th annual $100,000 Thomas W. Payzant School on the Move Prize. The award names the school that has shown substantial progress toward closing achievement gaps for all students. runners up this year were the Clarence R. Edwards Middle School in Charlestown and the Charles H. Taylor Elementary School in Mattapan, which each received $10,000!

EdVestors also released a report on the common practices that the group has found across all five schools that have won the School on the Move prize in the past. Here's what they found in each highly-successful school:

-Strong and collaborative leadership from principals with active involvement and support from teachers

-Collecting hard student data beyond district requirements and using that data to drive changes in curriculum and instruction on a continuous basis

-Balancing high academic and behavioral expectations of students with high levels of support beyond the classroom to address students’ academic, social and emotional needs

Here are some great links to read the full report and learn about why Lee Elementary was selected. Congratulations to principal Kimberly Curtis and all of our teachers and students!
(photo courtesy Don West)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

It's time to register for School Site Council trainings

The Office of Family & Student Engagement, in collaboration with the BTU, will be offering a series of School Site Council Trainings for principals/headmasters, teachers, parents, and high school students beginning in mid-November.

These trainings are an opportunity to learn about the key responsibilities and authorities of the SSC, gain information about the budget process, and receive a copy of the newly revised SSC Manual.

Dates and times are as follows:

SSC Basics: 11/15, 5:30-7:30 pm or 11/29, 4-6 PM
SSC Budget Basics: 12/7, 5:30-7:30 pm or 12/21, 4-6 PM
These sessions can be attended by either SSC teams or individual SSC members.

SSC Team Training: 11/20, 8:30 AM - 2:00 PM
This session is for SSC teams only; a team consists of the principal/headmaster, at least one teacher, at least one parent, and a student (high schools only). This training will consist of team working sessions on SSC Basics, SSC Budget Basics, and Shared-Decision Making.

All trainings will take place at the BTU Hall, located at 180 Mt. Vernon St. in Dorchester.

Registration & Deadline: RSPV by November 12 to Jasmine Raynor ( e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it / 617.635.9661)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October is College Month at BPS!

It's college month! All across BPS, guidance counselors are working with students to help them get ready for college. On October 22, staff will wear alumni apparel on "Represent your Alma Mater Day," and help lead classroom discussions about college choices, experience and careers. Volunteers and staff are also coordinating SAT prep workshops and through our partners at Success Boston, BPS is making sure that our juniors and seniors know about the many scholarships, financial aid packages, application assistance and testing support that are available to students. Please check out this flyer to learn more about how you can help, and visit our College Month website today!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

What is 'Redesign and Reinvest?'

From BPS Superintendent Carol R. Johnson:

We are beginning the second year of our Acceleration Agenda, a five-year plan for rapidly improving every classroom in the Boston Public Schools. The Acceleration Agenda calls on us to develop personalized academic plans for every student; it pushes us to do a better job evaluating teachers and helping them strengthen their skills; and it demands we rapidly turn around schools that are not making the grade.

To help us achieve these ambitious goals, we are implementing a plan called “Redesign and Reinvest.” This will improve the options for students attending schools that are not performing as well as we would like. In conversations with families this summer, in an online survey, and in many other discussions over the past year, parents told us that academic quality should be the most important factor as we build great schools for our children.

We believe the best way to offer better academic options for all our families is to close programs that are not working well and use those resources to reinforce our stronger programs and create new ones. We cannot tolerate persistent under-achievement at any of our schools. We cannot offer schools to the families of Boston that we would not choose for our own children. This plan allows us to move students into schools and classrooms that get results.

If the School Committee approves our proposal, these changes would take place in the 2011-2012 school year. This month we will hold a series of public hearings and meetings to discuss these draft suggestions. We are asking the School Committee to vote on a final plan in early November.

We are committed to building a school district that works for all of our children and now we need your help to make this a reality. Doing nothing is not an option – but doing what’s right can require some very difficult choices. I believe that the steps outlined here will help BPS deliver on our promise to provide a great education for all of Boston's children. The “Redesign and Reinvest” changes will help ensure every BPS school is an inspiring place to learn. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and addressing your questions.

Please review the specifics of our plan at We will update that page regularly with information on our public hearings, which we will hold throughout October to get your feedback on our proposal. Thank you for your interest, your understanding and your involvement in your child’s education!

Carol R. Johnson

Friday, September 24, 2010

Marshall Library gets a makeover

Thanks to our friends at Target and the Heart of America Foundation for renovating yet another BPS library! This time, John Marshall Elementary School was picked for a top-to-bottom renovation and students received thousands of new books. More than a hundred volunteers donated their time Thursday and the result is a beautiful, inspiring new library for our students.
In addition, the Target volunteers spent hours sprucing up the school's outdoor areas, including a peace garden dedicated to the memory of Louis D. Brown, who lost his life to gun violence.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Malindi's Journey

New teacher developer Alicia Carroll and Odyssey High School history teacher Lucy Montgomery spent their summers traveling through Malaysia - and blogging about it along the way. Check out "Malindi's Journey" over at This all started with a Fulbright-Hayes Fellowship in 2001 and a Fund for Teachers grant in 2004. Below is their report from the trip - and please check out their blog, too!

Alicia Carroll, New Teacher Developer, and Lucy Montgomery, History Teacher, Odyssey High School, were invited to present their research on connections between Africa, China and Islam through the Silk Route trade, and their related children’s book entitled Malindi’s Journey, at the First International Conference on Zheng He, in Melaka, Malaysia from July 5-8, 2010. The theme of the conference was Zheng He and the Afro-Asian World. The conference was organized by the Melaka State Government, the Perbadanan Museum Melaka, Cheng Ho (Zheng He) Cultural Museum and International Zheng He Society (Singapore). Their presentation is a product of our research and writing since 2001, including research conducted in Kenya through a Fulbright-Hayes Fellowship (Alicia Carroll) and Fund for Teachers grant in 2004.

Alicia and Lucy were two of 74 paper presenters, including scholars from Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Panama, Singapore, Taiwan, UK, and US. The conference had over 350 participants, and Alicia and Lucy’s presentation was attended by over 200 people. The conference papers will be published in a book by the International Zheng He Society in 2011.

While at the conference, Alicia and Lucy were interviewed for a newspaper article for the New Straits Times, the major newspaper for Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Sarawak, and Indonesia, by Dr. Rosey Wang Ma, a Research Fellow in the Department of Islamic History and Civilization at the University of Malaya. Dr. Ma asked Alicia and Lucy to speak about their work on African-Chinese connections, turning research into culturally grounded curriculum for global education.

Alicia and Lucy were given first-class treatment by the conference organizers; they were picked up at the airport and given a nice hotel room. At the Zheng He (Cheng Ho) Cultural Museum, they were treated like visiting scholars and dignitaries. Everyone wanted to know how they were affording the trip as teachers, and they were able to proudly say that they had received generous funding from the Fund for Teachers! People remarked that there need to be more organizations like Fund for Teachers to support teachers and their work.

In addition to attending the conference in Melaka, Malaysia, Alicia and Lucy traveled to Singapore and then to Nanjing, China to continue research on Zheng He’s influence in southeast Asia, and to visit the shipyard and other historical sites.

While they travelled, they began writing a blog for teachers and students at:

Dr. Jackie Jenkins-Scott, the President of Wheelock College, invited Alicia, who is a graduate of Wheelock, to make a presentation to students and faculty of the Wheelock College Teacher Training Program at Ngee-Ann Polytechnic University in Singapore. The focus of Alicia’s talk was “Early Childhood Curriculum: and Cultural Competency and Achievement;” Lucy spoke about early childhood as the building block for achievement in the high school classroom.

In Nanjing, Alicia and Lucy were invited to visit the Treasure Boat Shipyard, where a life-size replica of the largest of Zheng He’s ships is currently under construction. They were given a tour of the shipyard by the Director of the shipyard, and invited to the inaugural launch of the ship into the Indian Ocean, anticipated in late 2011!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Honoring 9/11 at BPS

Students at the W.B. Rogers Middle School in Hyde Park paused Friday to honor the victims of 9/11. In an annual ceremony, students, faculty and staff dressed in red, white and blue and left their classrooms at 8:45am, carrying American flags. Ten minutes later, Principal Corbett Coutts described what happened on 9/11, reminding students of the historical importance before pausing for a two-minute moment of silence. Most middle school students were too young in 2001 to remember what happened on that day, which is one reason Coutts says he pauses to commemorate the anniversary with students every year. Genevieve Legros, an 8th grade English Language Arts teacher, sang the Star Spangled Banner. Students also heard the poem "One," written by Cheryl Sawyer just after 9/11:

As the soot and dirt and ash rained down,
We became one color.
As we carried each other down the stairs of the burning building
We became one class.
As we lit candles of waiting and hope
We became one generation.
As the firefighters and police officers fought their way into the inferno
We became one gender.
As we fell to our knees in prayer for strength,
We became one faith.
As we whispered or shouted words of encouragement,
We spoke one language.
As we gave our blood in lines a mile long,
We became one body.
As we mourned together the great loss
We became one family.
As we cried tears of grief and loss
We became one soul.
As we retell with pride of the sacrifice of heroes
We become one people.

We are
One color
One class
One generation
One gender
One faith
One language
One body
One family
One soul
One people

We are The Power of One.
We are United.
We are America.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cyber Mentors present to Attorney General

BPS Cyber Mentors recently presented to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. These Cyber Mentors were paid to work throughout the summer and held cyber safety seminars for their peers and for younger students. You can read more about the program on their website

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.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Alfreda Harris Recognized by Basketball Hall of Fame

Mayor Thomas M. Menino today joined School Committee Chairperson Rev. Dr. Gregory G. Groover, Sr. and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol R. Johnson in congratulating long-serving school committee member Alfreda Harris on being honored by the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Harris, along with Sacramento Kings center Samuel Dalembert and Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim of Syracuse University were named winners of the 2010 Mannie Jackson – Basketball’s Human Spirit Award. The award is presented to individuals who have honored the game of basketball by virtue of their personal growth and life-long accomplishments.

"As the longest-serving member of the appointed Boston School Committee, Mrs. Harris has been my personal guide," said Mayor Menino. "I trust Alfreda Harris: her good sense, her judgment, her straight talk, her values. In everything she does, I know that her top priority is and always has been in the best interest of kids. There are many who claim to make a difference; Alfreda Harris is among the few who actually do. She is the real deal."

Harris founded the SAT Preparation Program serving high school students in Boston while also founding and coordinating girls’ basketball leagues and Amateur Athletic Union teams for the city. Harris also founded the Owen Wells Fitness Center and the Reebok Educational Athletic Partnership that provides students with community programs in social development, computer skills and tutoring. Beyond serving on the Boston School Committee, Harris also serves as a Board member for the Shelburne Community Council, Boston Neighborhood Basketball League and the Police Athletic League.
The criteria for award winners include embracing the core values of the game, hard-work, striving to improve the community and making a commitment to others. Beyond the game, award winners must reflect the values of Mannie Jackson’s life-long mission to overcome obstacles and challenge the status quo, while taking responsibility for his or her actions and seeking the highest standard of excellence.
Read the press release.

Deb Socia recognized for technology leadership

The Capital Region Society for Technology in Education (CRSTE) named Principal Debra Socia of the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in Dorchester a recipient of its first ever “Leadership and Vision” award. The award recognizes leaders in the field of education who have started programs that promote the effective infusion of technology into instruction that reflects the skills, knowledge and experience that are essential for success in the 21st century global economy. After serving as the principal of the Frederick for seven years, Ms. Socia will next year serve as a “principal on assignment” coordinating and expanding Technology Goes Home, a city-wide technology training program serving inner-city families through the Boston Public Schools.

Here is a roundup of some recent press coverage of Deb Socia and the Frederick Middle School:

Intel produced a case study on the Frederick's eLearning initiative.

Ms. Socia has co-authored articles on technology, including “Moving Beyond One Size Fits All With Digital Citizenship,” for the Publius Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. She has also been quoted in a New York Times story about cyberbullying and a Wall Street Journal story on laptops in the classroom.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation produced a video showcasing a unique mental health program for Somali students at the Frederick.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Clinton, Alliance for a Healthier Generation praise BPS schools for healthy practices

Former President Bill Clinton and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation recognized seven Boston Public Schools for transforming themselves into healthier places for students and staff. The Boston schools were among 179 from across the country honored at an awards ceremony in New York City.

The seven BPS winners are as follows:
    * Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot School – Silver Award
    * Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School – Bronze Award
    * Nathan Hale Elementary School  – Bronze Award
    * Media Communications Technology High School  – Bronze Award
    * Mission Hill School  – Bronze Award
    * New Mission High School  – Bronze Award
    * Josiah Quincy Elementary School  – Bronze Award

To earn this award, the schools created healthy eating and physical activity programs that met or exceeded stringent standards set by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program, which provides free support and technical assistance to more than 9,000 schools nationwide to help them reverse the national trend in childhood obesity. Schools were eligible for Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum National Recognition Awards based on their level of achievement.

For example, moving students out of classrooms and into neighborhood parks helped the Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot School win the Alliance’s “Silver Award.” Science and math teachers identified green spaces within walking distance of the school, transforming urban forests, farms and gardens into learning opportunities. Read more in the press release.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Red Sox Scholars Class of 2010 inducted at Fenway

The Boston Red Sox introduced the Red Sox Scholars Class of 2010 in an on-field ceremony with Red Sox players at Fenway Park prior to the Sunday, June 13th Red Sox vs. Philadelphia Phillies game.  The 25 new Red Sox Scholars, who will enter sixth grade in the fall, are all academically talented, financially challenged middle school students in the Boston Public Schools and join seven previous classes of Scholars. There are now 200 Red Sox Scholars supported by the Red Sox Foundation, the official team charity of the Boston Red Sox, including 18 Scholars  in the first class of Red Sox Scholars selected in 2003, who are graduating from high school, and who will be attending college in the fall.

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's graduation time .. for parents!

High school graduations are in full swing around the city, but students aren't the only graduates in the Boston Public Schools this year. The district recently honored its very first class of graduates from Parent University. School Committee Chair Rev. Gregory G. Groover, Sr., Vice-Chair Marchelle Raynor, Superintendent Johnson, City Councilor Ayanna Presley, several BPS principals, and other special guests gathered at the Reggie Lewis Center last week for a special ceremony honoring the 86 parents who completed the full program. Parent University, developed by the Office of Family & Student Engagement and launched last October, consists of a series of three day-long learning sessions throughout the year designed to support parents and empower them to become leaders and advocates for student learning and school improvement.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Valedictorians Luncheon celebrates top students from each BPS high school

Last week Mayor Menino and Boston Public Schools honored 36 valedictorians from every Boston public high school at the 12th annual Valedictorians Luncheon at the Boston Harbor Hotel. The students and their invited guests enjoyed a three-course lunch, and each valedictorian took home a backpack and gift card courtesy of Reebok.

Several news outlets covered the event, including WBZ-TV, the Boston Herald, and Fox 25. This coming Sunday, the Boston Globe is set to run its annual valedictorians feature, showcasing the top students from all public schools in the city.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Superintendent, BAA honored at Arts Advocacy Awards

The nonprofit organization Arts/Learning recently honored Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol R. Johnson and Boston Arts Academy at the 24th Annual Champion of the Arts Advocacy Awards Ceremony held at the Massachusetts State House. Arts/Learning honored Dr. Johnson with the Municipal Leadership Award and BAA with the School of Distinction in Arts Education Award. All of the honorees received handmade "spirit boxes" created by Cambridge artist Judith Motzkin.

Four students from the Kenny Elementary School in Dorchester also attended the event and read poems, including those they had written in response to the earthquake in Haiti. The students participate in a program with Troubadour, a nonprofit organization that uses poetry, prose and song lyrics to improve literacy and student achievement.

Read the students' poems after the jump.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Boston Celtics honor BPS middle school students

Governor Deval Patrick, Superintendent Carol R. Johnson, Boston Celtics Legend Dana Barros, and Celtics President Rich Gotham honored more than 800 Boston Public Schools middle school students yesterday at the 19th annual Celtics Stay In School Awards held at Northeastern University's Matthews Arena. Students were recognized in the categories of writing, art, and attendance, including 15 students who made it into the "Three Year Club" (8th graders who have never been late or absent in their entire middle school careers). Each school also celebrated an "M.I.P." or "Most Improved Pupil" -- the student who made greatest progress this year in regards to attitude, effort, behavior, and academics.The event, which featured student performances by the Edwards Middle School step team and chorus as well as a performance by Boston rapper Akrobatik, was sponsored by Arbella Insurance Group.

Photo: Horace Mann School M.I.P. Julia Damon Goodman shows off her autographed photo of Paul Pierce.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dr. Johnson speaks at Boston Bar Association's Law Day Dinner

Superintendent Johnson last night gave the keynote address at the Boston Bar Association's Law Day Dinner. Below is an excerpt from her remarks:

Tonight, I am reminded that throughout our nation’s history, the work that you do and the work we carry out on a day-to-day basis has often intersected. So tonight, I’d like to say a little bit about how we got to this place, tell you how we are changing to create the kinds of schools that most of you attended and that each of you would choose for your own child - and then finally, I hope to end with a few thoughts about how together we can be the change we want to see for all of our community’s children. Our collective work in Boston is all the more significant because Boston’s history begins our nation’s history and our nation’s pursuit of educational opportunity for all of its children began with the first school - Boston Latin School, founded in 1635, and who this year celebrates it 375th anniversary. BLS was followed in 1647 by a decree that every town in the Commonwealth of 50 families or more should have an elementary school and every town of 100 families should establish a “Latin School.” The Mather elementary school opened in 1639, the English high school in 1821; and yet the universal free public education system that is a ubiquitous part of the fabric of our American democracy and the one we know today is one that has been sacrificed for and fought for.

Read the entire speech here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

News from the schools

Here is a roundup of recent events and news from around the Boston Public Schools:

Thanks to a $13K generous donation from Old Mutual Asset Management Foundation, Monument High School's Mu Alpha Theta (M.A.T.) mathematics honor society was able to take a field trip to Chicago, Illinois, recently. The trip to Chicago gave the students the chance to explore another city rich in history, culture, diversity, food, music, and architecture and also exposed students to the role of mathematics in architecture and engineering, as well as logistical planning (budget, itinerary, and fundraising). Photo: Mu Alpha Theta Students.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Boston AIDS Walk, AIDS Action is recognizing 25 community heroes. Boston Public Schools Student Support Coordinator Phil Robinson is among them. Mr. Robinson has raised many thousands of dollars to end the AIDS epidemic by participating in each and every AIDS Walk Boston.

Fox 25 visited the Trotter Elementary School in Dorchester recently for a story about Playworks, the national nonprofit organization that provides structured recess programming for schools.

Nora Tsoutsis, an English teacher at John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science in Roxbury, was recently named by the National Math and Science Initiative as one of 18 teachers to receive its first annual All American Teacher of the Year Award. The awards, which recognize outstanding math, science, and English teachers for remarkable contributions to their students and to the teaching profession, are presented to teachers in each state participating in NMSI’s Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program (APTIP).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Boston part of statewide campaign seeking outstanding teachers for positions in Turnaround Schools

Boston is one of nine cities in the Commonwealth seeking outstanding teachers to apply for positions in “Level 4” or Turnaround Schools next year. For more information about these opportunities, visit

This website is designed to inform teachers about career opportunities in the state’s Turnaround Schools, which are located in nine districts: Boston, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Springfield and Worcester. The site provides information about the first group of 35 “Level 4” schools and the nine urban public school districts in which they are located, with a focus on supports and incentives for teachers.

The website includes videos of outstanding teachers who currently work in Level 4 schools and also allows visitors to recommend great teachers to be considered for teaching positions in Level 4 schools.

Boston teachers featured in the videos include English High School history teachers Efraim Toledano and Caitlyn Murphy, Trotter Elementary School 5th grade teacher Joanne Douglas, and Trotter science teacher Brenda Richardson. Students also have a chance to share their thoughts on their amazing teachers.

Read today's Globe article about the state's new recruitment campaign for Turnaround Schools.

Friday, May 07, 2010

BPS in the News

Many news outlets, including the Globe, Herald, and WCVB-TV, covered the ceremony officially renaming BPS's Health Careers Academy as the Edward M. Kennedy Academy of Health Careers.

Both the Globe and the Herald wrote about the first ArtScience Innovation prize awarded this week to Boston high school students who have spent the past year working on innovative ideas and inventions. A team from the John D. O'Bryant won the contest and an opportunity to travel to France to further develop their project.

Boston Arts Academy headmaster Linda Nathan, Charlestown High School Arabic language teacher Steven Berbeco, and BPS literacy coach Elizabeth MacDonald are featured in a recent Boston Globe Magazine article about reinvigorating education for students of all ages.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Six BPS students earn prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarships

Six Boston Public Schools students have been selected for the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Gates Millennium Scholars Program (GMS), the nation’s largest minority scholarship program. The BPS students, representing four high schools, are among 1,000 students nationwide and 11 in Massachusetts who received the good-through-graduation college scholarships that can be used to pursue degrees in any undergraduate major at the college or university of the recipients’ choice.

The 2010 Boston Public Schools Gates Millennium Scholars are as follows:

· Tatiana Cortes, New Mission High School
· Jean Heyd Meneide, Brook Farm Business and Service Career Academy
· Jasmine Lee, Boston Arts Academy
· Takii Rivers, New Mission High School
· Patrick Tavares, Brighton High School
· Jasmine Williams, New Mission High School

One of the students, Tatiana Cortes, was profiled in a Boston Herald article, while WHDH-TV stopped by New Mission High School to speak with some of the winners.

Photo: Tatiana Cortes (Boston Herald)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Perkins School welcomes "men and women in uniform" for reading celebration

The Michael J. Perkins Elementary School in South Boston recently celebrated reading with a special event featuring sailors, police, EMS, firefighters, military officers and other “men and women in uniform” who visited classrooms and served as guest readers. The guests, including EMI Michael Pendergraft and SA Tracy Stephens from the USS Constitution (pictured), read books related to their professions, and at the end of the day, each child selected a book to bring home for his/her home library. The event was organized in conjunction with Reading Is Fundamental and ReadBoston.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Students travel to New Orleans over April vacation to help with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts

In collaboration with Gulf Coast Volunteers for the Long Haul, 12 students from six Boston Public Schools will travel to New Orleans over spring recess next week to help with ongoing relief efforts related to Hurricane Katrina.

The students are all mentors in the LEAH project, which provides high school students with mentoring and leadership opportunities in out-of-school-time programs.

The students, along with four staff, will stay in Algiers for the week and volunteer in the wards of New Orleans and Slidell, Louisiana. They will also visit McMain High School to dialogue with New Orleans Public Schools students, visit Dillard University, and experience the unique food, music, and culture of the city. Throughout the trip, LEAH mentors will post updates on Facebook and Twitter as “Leah Leaders” and write daily blogs at They leave on Sunday, April 18 and return to Boston on Saturday, April 24. The trip is sponsored in part by Loomis, Sayles & Company, L.P.

Friday, April 09, 2010

BPS in the News

Here are some recent news stories featuring BPS students, staff and partners:

WBZ-TV went to the Tynan Elementary School today in South Boston, where Boston Police honored third grade student Richard Scott for his bravery. Last week, Richard helped a Kindergarten student whose parents were not at the bus stop to pick her up.

The City of Boston's Anti-Bullying Hotline was recently featured in an ABC News story on cyberbulling.

The Curley K-8 School and the John F. Kennedy School in Jamaica Plain were featured in the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald for helping the Department of Fish and Game release trout and salmon into Jamaica Pond.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Kindergarten students learn about careers in the aviation industry

Students from Ms. Frazier's K1 class at the Adams Elementary School in East Boston stopped by the annual Logan Airport Aviation Education Career Expo. The students got an up-close look at a gigantic FedEx plane and an opportunity to climb aboard and explore a number of aircraft. Each year more than 1,000 students from Boston and beyond attend the event to learn more about careers in the aviation and transportation industries and about the importance of science and math skills in these fields.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Families: Register online for Parent University and check out Summer Stuff

Registration for the May 1 session of the popular Parent University is now open. Parent University is a learning experience specifically designed to help Boston Public Schools parents increase their understanding of how children learn and develop; what their children should be learning; how to help their children get what they need to succeed; and how to bring other parents together to work for school improvement. Most importantly Parent University provides opportunities for parents to build their own skills and enjoy learning new things. Learn more and register online at

Additionally, BPS this week released the 2010 edition of Summer Stuff and Summer Stuff, Jr., listing hundreds of summer camps, classes, activities, internships and job opportunities for the coming summer. Summer Stuff 2010 for Grades 6 – 12 and Summer Stuff Jr. 2010 for Kindergarten – Grade 5 will be available in all Boston Public Schools and Family Resource Centers, as well as City Hall, public libraries, YMCA branches, ABCD Head Start Programs, and Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF) community centers starting the week of March 29 – April 1. Additional free copies will be available at the BPS central office, 26 Court Street, Boston. Both editions can also be found online at

Friday, March 26, 2010

Excel High School delegates recognized at Model UN

Excel High School delegates won three of the four available awards for best position paper at the recent 2010 Boston Invitational Model UN Conference:
  • Etshiewot Mebratu and Khairi Marsh - Prisoner Treatment in the Human Rights Council;
  • Yunqi Lin and Kristen Keough - Gender Equality in the Social/Cultral Committee; and
  • Matt Doan - Conflict Diamonds in the Disarmament and International Security Committee.
Two Excel delegates also earned honorable mentions in public speaking and negotiation:
  • Frances Quinn and Jeffrey Senatus - Conflict Diamonds in the Disarmament and International Security Committee.
The event, organized by the United Nations Association of Greater Boston (UNAGB) was held recently at Northeastern University.

Photo: (L to R) Excel High School students Etshiewot Mebratu, Jeffrey Senatus, Matthew Doan, Yunqi Lin, Khairi Marsh, Kristen Keough, and Frances Quinn (center).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Murphy students travel to "Destination ImagiNation"

The Murphy K-8 School sent three teams to the Destination ImagiNation (DI) competition in Beverly, MA last weekend, and one of the teams -- "Do or DI Improv" -- won first place in its elementary category and will advance to the state championships in Worcester on April 3. Destination ImagiNation is an exhilarating after-school activity in which students work in teams to solve mind-bending Challenges and present their solutions at Tournaments. Teams are tested to think on their feet, work together, and devise original solutions that satisfy the requirements of the Challenges. Students at the Murphy participate in DI through the school's "Prime Time Afterschool Program."

Photo: Miren Parkinson and Max Snyder display their team's banner. Fifty teams from 12 communities participated in last weekend's tournament.

Monday, March 22, 2010

BPS in the News: English High School mural story on WBUR radio

WBUR's David Boeri recently did a story on a special work of art in progress at The English High School. Heidi Schork, the leader of the mural crew for the City of Boston, is working with students to create a mural inside the school that represents the diversity of English's student body. Listen to the story and view the slide show on the WBUR website.

Photo: Woody Italien, from Haiti, is one of the students who became a painter. (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)

Friday, March 12, 2010

BPS teacher takes a year to travel the world

Teacher Lillian Marshall taught at Charlestown High School for five years before taking a leave of absence this school year to travel around the world to volunteer, teach and write. After some time in Asia and Europe, for the past two months she has been in Ghana, West Africa, running a student writing project and international penpal exchange. Follow Ms. Marshall's adventures on her daily travel blog, "Around the World L", and make sure to check out the Student Life Stories Project, which contains nearly two dozen stories written by Ghanaian students about an important or influential event in their life, allowing readers around the world a sneak peek into the individual students' life experiences.

Photo: Ghanaian students view their published works online for the first time (courtesy of Lillian Marshall).