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.

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