Thursday, December 15, 2011

Teaching Ambassador Update!

In August Arne Duncan, the US Secretary of Education announced the 2011-12 fellows for the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship. The mission of the fellowship is “to improve education for students by involving teachers in the development and implementation of national education policy.” There were 800 applications and only 16 were chosen. Robert Baroz, a literacy and data coach at the Curley K-8 School, and Shakera Walker, an elementary teacher at Young Achiever Science and Math School, are two of the chosen fellows. Robert Baroz is a part time fellow as a classroom ambassador and Shakera Walker is a full time fellow working in DC.

Recently, I checked up on Baroz and Walker to see how the fellowship is going.

As a classroom ambassador, Baroz participates in several types of outreach activities on the behalf of the U.S Department of Education. He has attended local events like the Blue Ribbon event at Boston Latin School and has visited Providence, Rhode Island for a town hall meeting on education. Baroz has also been part of the American Jobs Act round table discussions. He offered suggestions on how money can be used for teachers. In his role, he serves as an advisor for other educators and also provides feedback to the Department of Education. “Policy influences the classroom and this is a great opportunity for communication to travel from the school to the top,” Baroz noted and continues, “Two-way process of communication is key and listening is just as important.”

Baroz is grateful for the opportunity and encourages other people to apply within the district. “Boston teachers have a track record of getting selected. We can aim to be the model. I love to be teaching in urban schools and especially at BPS. I wouldn’t want to be in any other district,” Baroz said.

While Baroz is busy traveling in and around Massachusetts, Walker is also hard at work in DC. “Things are going great,” Walker said. She works in the early education office. As an early education teacher, she is able to share her experiences and bring her perspective to the table. “Many times, policies are being made without taking into account the perspective of the teachers, and my presence in the decision process is very important,” Walker said. It has been a great learning experience for Walker. In her role she has facilitated learning across the country and has met with many policy makers. The process has also taught her about the competitive nature of Race to the Top funds.

Walker is thankful for the opportunity to share stories with other like-minded colleagues, who have a passion for education. Although she misses her students, she feels the experience will help her serve the students better. When she returns to Boston, she looks forward to taking on more leadership roles. “I strongly recommend this programs to others and I am happy that a program like this is in place,” Walker said.

To learn more about the Teacher Ambassador Fellowship:

Monday, December 05, 2011

Getting in and getting

I attended the Education Policy Conference, Getting In, Getting Through, and Graduating, hosted by the Freedom House on Saturday November 19, 2011 and learned about the challenges facing students, families, and educators. A student spoke of his struggles transitioning into college. He felt he was not prepared. A mother spoke of the cultural barriers that exist for her and her family. She did not speak English and found it hard to navigate through the school system. Gail Snowden, Executive Director for the Freedom House told a story of a student who would leave her college campus and come to the Freedom House for the support she felt was lacking on campus. Dr. Ferguson, Senior Lecturer for The School of Education at Harvard, talked about a study done by his department which found that some students were hiding effort because they feared being ridiculed by their peers for appearing smart. Neil Sullivan, Executive Director for Boston Private Industry Council (PIC), noted that business partners want to provide students with jobs, but also want assurance that students are prepared for the workforce. “We understand that the youth employment rate has declined by 50% and the labor market for youth has in fact collapsed”, he continued, “but in order for businesses to come on board, they want to see results and how they will benefit.”

During an open table discussion, the following comments were made :

• Generate environments in which other students are encouraging their peers to learn and ask questions.
• Create safe havens like the Freedom House.
• Learn to navigate through the non-traditional forms of communication.
• Adapt to the cultural norms of the student and families.
• Teach students how to code-switch. Some students are not able to differentiate between the expectations and practices of the workforce and those of the home.
• Teach students that they have a personal stake in their success.

The ideas are in line with those of the Boston Public Schools. BPS is currently working with the English Language Learners Initiative to improve the ways in which leaders communicate with families. This means providing information in various languages, going to local community gatherings, and reaching out to local radio stations and newspapers. Parent University is a BPS program that helps parents improve their skills through classroom sessions focusing on child development, what children are learning in school, and effective parenting skills. The BPS College Readiness program makes sure that high school students are ready for graduation and prepared for college by providing workshops on college essay and SAT Prep. The 10 Boys Initiative provides males -who are at a greater risk of failing or dropping out of school-with the encouragement and support needed to achieve personal and academic success. In every BPS high school a PIC (Private Industry Council) officer is assigned to prepare students for the workforce.

All these programs brings us a step closer to closing the achievement gap. BPS understands that more work is needed and will continue to work toward more effective strategies. If you can offer more creative ways to build stronger partnerships and assist families, please forward your ideas to

To learn more about the above programs, check them here: October College Month, Parent University, Private Industry Council (PIC) and 10 Boys Initiative.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Checking in with Phoebe

On August 8th I introduced you to the BPS Green School Fellow Phoebe Beierle. Recently, I checked in with her to see what has happened since our last interview.

Phoebe has worked on projects with partner organizations such as Green Streets Initiative, Alliance for Climate Education, Learning By Design and many more. She noted that many initiatives have been taking place to “green” BPS schools – everything from promoting walking and riding to school to incorporating hands-on environmental curriculum to improving recycling programs. I learned from Phoebe that this year alone, Boston has had the following success around green schools and environmental education:

1. The Boston Green Academy opened its doors as the first school in the district to integrate concepts of economic, environmental and social equity in its curriculum.

2. The Recycling Committee is working with schools to set up better recycling systems. The Committee has re-engaged Recycling Coordinators from the Nathan Hale, Haley, Hernandez, Kenny, Russell, Warren Prescott, Young Achievers, Edison, Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy, Adams, Dorchester Academy, Mather, Mission Hill, Everret, Trotter, Henderson, Mason, Tobin, Ohenberger, Phillbreck, and Greenwood schools- with hopes of getting representation from all 120 schools!

3. The Green Schools Fellow received a $2,000 grant to implement a hands-on unit focusing on appliance energy usage. The unit is being piloted at Boston Latin School and other schools across the state.

4. Boston Latin School’s YouthCAN group provided environmental literacy professional development services for 50 teachers and was the first public school in the country to receive the prestigious Eco Schools USA Green Flag Award

5. The facilities department learned that it saved the district around $75,000 in energy costs last year by installing occupancy light sensors (the lights turn on only when there is someone in the room) in 19 schools.

6. Green Streets Initiative received a $15,000 grant and is working collaboratively with Safe Routes to Schools and the BPS Health & Wellness department to encourage students, staff and parents to walk and ride (bikes or public transport) to school.

As you can see there are exciting green work happening in our schools, but much more can be done. “On average ‘greening’ our schools can save $100,000/yr on operating costs, which is enough money to pay for up to two teachers, 200 computers or 5,000 textbooks!” Phoebe said. If you’re inspired to take steps to green your classroom, check out these 11 tips that are based on the Earth Day article published on the Center for Green Schools Blog in 2011

Also, to bring recognition to teachers who have already taken
steps to green their classrooms, the US Green Building council (the organization that is funding the Green Schools Fellowship) and 2041 launched the Coolest Teacher in the World Search and will be selecting one teacher from Boston to attend an expedition to Antarctica from February 27th – March 12th 2012. To take part in this opportunity, Boston teachers must apply by November 30th. Application details are here:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Suzanne Mathews, school librarian for the Trotter School, helped to bring illustrator Bryan Collier to the school on Friday November 4, 2011. “The Trotter School is approximately 75% African American and 24% Latino," Suzanne said. "I felt that it was incredibly powerful for the children to meet someone who looks like them and makes his living creating art for children's books.” The event was sponsored by the Children’s Foundation for Children’s Books. The organization’s School Visits and Residency Program, which started in 2005, brings authors and illustrators into under-served schools in Boston.

During the event I had a chance to talk to Bryan. He was very excited to be at the school. He said, “It is important that children see successful individuals who look like them follow their dreams. It gives them hope and shows them one can triumph despite one’s circumstance.”

Bryan is an artist from Harlem. As a child, he says he was always encouraged to read. The first books he recalls reading were The Snowy Day by Ezra Keats and Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. “I liked the stories but really liked the pictures,” Bryan said. He noted that seeing the first black illustrated character in a book empowered him. Ezra Jack Keats was the first American illustrator to portray black characters in children’s literature. “A book is both a window and a mirror,” noted Bryan.

His fascination with pictures led him to become a self-taught artist. He started to create a name for himself in the Harlem community and in school. He became known for his unique art style, which encompasses both watercolors and collage. He attended the Pratt Institute in New York City and graduated with honors with a bachelor of fine arts degree. While in school, he volunteered at the Harlem Horizon, which provides working space and materials for other self-taught artists in the community. “It’s important that people give back, and it’s especially important that I give back to my community because I can be that window, that opportunity.”

As I finish talking with Bryan, he prepares for his conversation with the students in the auditorium. Once everyone is settled, he starts the conversation by telling his story through his artwork. He pulls out his books and collages and asks the students, “What do you see?” As the students raise their hands and respond, Bryan asks them to go further. The kids don’t quite understand where he is going with all the questions, but he later explains that the pictures are telling them a story. Brian tells the students that he wants them to think critically and ask more questions.

He then pulls out a book with the image of Rosa Parks and asks the kids what she did for work. All the kids raised their hands. Bryan starts to call on the students. One answers, “She sat in front of the bus and didn’t give up her seat when she was asked to move to the back.” “Ok,” he says, “What else did she do, what did she do for work?” There were no hands and the students are confused. Bryan then goes on to say, “Did you know she was a seamstress?” Some shake their heads. Bryan tells them it’s important to be more inquisitive and go beyond what is given and told to them, challenging them to be critical and independent thinkers. His message aligns with the BPS vision, to “cultivate students who love to learn, to view the world as a classroom without walls, and think critically about the issues within it.”

After his presentation he asks the students if they have any questions. Hands goes up. The students are interested. They are curious and asking questions. They want to know why did he want to be an illustrator, how can they be an Illustrator, and how long would it would take to illustrate a book. A window is opened!

After the visit, I asked Suzanne Matthews for her thoughts on the event. “Overall, I think it was a wonderful, memorable and powerful experience for the Trotter student,” Suzanne said. She added, “Now when the students read a book and examine the illustrations, they can picture in their minds an illustrator like Bryan Collier making the artistic and creative choices and decisions that he described in his own process.”

The Trotter is grateful to the Foundation for Children's Books for bringing Mr. Collier to the school and the donation of 26 books to the school library. To learn more about the organization, visit

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Welcome to the King!

In 2009, Dickerman Elementary School merged with the King Middle School as part of the Pathways to Excellence project, which focuses on “expanding academic excellence, increasing access, ensuring quality and improving efficiency and effectiveness.“ After the merger, Jessica Bolt, former Principal at the Dickerman, was appointed principal for the renewed King K-8 School and she has not only helped to change the attitude of the school, but also the look.

Recently, I visited Jessica at the King to talk about the great things taking place at the school. When I arrived, I was greeted by a warm welcoming smile. Jessica was eager to give me a tour of the school. “People don’t know what’s going on at the King,” she said. “They need to come inside and take a look at this great school.”

Jessica informed me about the many programs and partnerships with the school. Massachusetts Housing has been with her for more than 13 years. “Every day we get a mentor who comes to the building to help the teachers and students,” Jessica said. Some other partnerships include Charles Street AME, Wellesley Congregational Church, Harvard University Educational Outreach Program, and Massachusetts College of Art. The partners have assisted with field trips, computers, counseling, books, and after-school tutoring. “We also have many other activities available at the school such as ‘Kings of the King,’ a program that focuses on our young men. We want them to be leaders in the community. We also have Generation Inc. that will be starting up soon. The program brings senior citizens into the classrooms to help with literacy.”

As I walked through the building, I noticed it was clean and well kept. “It is important that kids not only get a great education at the King, but that they are welcomed in a clean environment,” Jessica said. When she says clean, she means spick and span- she stopped three times during my visit to pick up pieces of dropped paper.

During my tour, I took note of the many pictures and quotes. Jessica informed me that a lot of the artwork and quotes on the walls relate to Martin Luther King. Jr.’s vision and dream. “I noticed that the kids liked to spend time mingling in the hallways and I thought I would put some inspiring quotes on the walls to not only give them something to read, but to remind them of Dr. King’s message,” she said.

The students adore Jessica, which is evident when we visited the classroom- Jessica was a recipient of many hugs and smiles.

After the tour we stopped by her office, which is filled with artwork. She tells me that she is an avid art collector and a follower of jazz, which is apparent in the paintings. Also stored in her office are birthday “goodies.” Jessica usually carries it with her while in the hallways. If a student’s birthday happens to fall on the day she is walking the halls, she will distribute a gift to the student. She also acknowledges birthdays of staff members. While in the office, she received a call to remind her of a teacher’s birthday. She quickly makes a note of it so she can recognize the teacher before the end of the day.

I learned more about Jessica while in her office. She has been with BPS since 1978. She is originally from New York, but in 1972 she moved to Boston to attend Northeastern University. After she graduated, she became a middle school reading teacher. From a young age she knew that she wanted to be an educator. She credits her career path to her parents, who were both educators, and to the great teachers she had while attending middle school and high school in West Hempstead, NY. After serving many years as a teacher, she became a principal (she was at the Dickerman School for 15 years before moving to the King).

I wrapped up my interview with Jessica and thanked her for the hospitality. Jessica ended with “No, thank you! I want more people to learn more about the King. I want parents and people in the community to come into the building. I look forward to more visits,” she said.

So if you are in the neighborhood stop by and say hello. Jessica always has a seat ready for you!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Meet Dr. Deborah Dancy

BPS is privileged and honored to have some of the best and brightest educators in the country on our team. This school year we would like to put the spotlight on some of them by introducing you to the school leaders, teachers, and administrative staff of BPS. This month we present to you Dr. Deborah Dancy.

Dr Deborah D. Dancy is the new principal at the Mildred Ave K-8 School and although she is new to the school, she is not new to BPS. Dr. Dancy has been with BPS for more than 25 years. She started as a student at Boston Technical High School where she was one of three girls to graduate in the class of 1974. Once she finished her studies in higher education, Deborah returned to BPS and worked in various roles: a teacher, a department head, assistant principal, and finally a principal.

“I am excited to be at Mildred Avenue because this is my neighborhood. I grew up 5 doors down from this school, and as a child I played on the lot that this school is built on. Through the Boston Public Schools, I have traveled national and internationally and attended some of the best universities this country has to offer. I want to inspire children to think outside of the box and to break out of the box. The world is a beautiful place for those who are prepared. Our children deserve the best and we will give them our best at Mildred Avenue,” said Dr. Dancy

Dr. Deborah Dancy was a vocalist at the New England Conservatory in 2005, a Television Producer for Boston Neighborhood Network in 2008, a recipient of the Crystal Apple Character Award in 2007 and Massachusetts Outstanding Leadership Award in 2008, a Japan Fulbright Scholar in 2006, and the author of two books: “Count Me In! Strategies For Success With All Children “(2011) and “ Yes We Can! Strategies for Closing The Achievement Gap”(2009).

A teacher who worked with Dr. Dancy when she served as the principal for The Channing Elementary School said about her, “Dr. Dancy has led us, me in particular, to understand what being a leader is all about. She has done that with caring approach, which allows us to be what we want to be, teach the way we need to teach...her successful formula is that she would do anything honorable for staff, her students and their families. That is leadership, that is character! ”

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Community service

Mass College of Arts and Design has a summer program in which students work with a local organization in the community to build a small project. This summer, Mass College of Art and Design partnered with the Haley School and Mass Audubon to create an outside classroom.

The Haley School is a pilot school that focuses on community and environment. It has a long working relationship with the Boston Nature Center. The Boston Nature Center has provided a "teacher naturalist" to the school since 2003. The "teacher naturalist" coaches teachers on how to connect the classroom to nature during and after school. Students have become excited about digging and finding “treasures” outside.

Outside teaching has become a hit at the Haley School, so much so that teachers and students started to advocate for an outside classroom to help support outside teaching. When Mass College of Art and Design learned about the request, it decided to help make that a reality.

The project was completed the first week of August and an official ribbon cutting will be held in the fall- stay tuned!

Mass College of Art and Design is always looking to partner with the community. If you are interested in learning more about its program and how you can be a partner send an email: Sam,

Monday, August 08, 2011

Boston leading and "greening" the way

Boston Public Schools and the Sacramento City Unified School District were selected from a pool of 30 applicants to be the first to host a US Green Building Council “green school fellow.” Boston was chosen in part due to its large size, urban location, diverse student population and proven leadership around green initiatives. One thing that stood out for Boston was its Energy Management Program, which tracks utility/energy usage for all BPS buildings dating back to 1988. In addition, Boston has a history of supporting cutting-edge building design standards. Boston was the first city in the nation to implement LEED™ green building requirements for both private and public projects .

Boston has been the city of many "firsts." In 1635 Boston Latin School was established as the first public secondary school. The first school for the blind, Perkins Institute was opened in 1829. The first public school for African-American children, the Abiel Smith School, was opened in 1835. When Boston decided to strengthen its mathematics, sciences, and language programs for the gifted, Congress followed by passing the National Defense Education Act in 1958. In 1963, when former Superintendent Ohrenberger learned of the disadvantages of inner city kids, many programs were formed, which were later emulated in 1965 by the passing of The Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Boston has a reputation for being the trendsetter. We are proud BPS will be among the first to host a USGBC Center for Green Schools Fellow.

So what exactly is a green fellow? The Boston Green Schools Fellowship is supported by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and their Center for Green Schools. The positions were made possible by a sponsorship from United Technologies Corporation (UTC). Over three years the Fellows will work with their school districts to design healthy, and energy efficient schools. The Fellows will collaborate with local leaders and community agencies to bring new environmental education and engagement opportunities into schools.

Phoebe Beierle, the Boston Fellow, will be working with the district over the next three years to bring environmental education to students as a way to close the achievement gap and foster engaged citizens, while making our schools more energy-efficient. Her goal will be to connect with students to enhance educational enrichment and link the classroom experience with greening our community. Some of the projects Phoebe will engage in are:

• Implement a comprehensive recycling and waste reduction program in all schools within 3yrs
• Train staff and teachers on energy and environmental topics
• Work with teachers and principals to incorporate sustainability curriculum into classrooms, afterschool programs, etc.
• Maximize energy efficiency opportunities

Phoebe says, “ This fellowship is a unique opportunity to work with the City and each department in the district to further our green initiatives, contribute to the City’s climate reduction goals, and provide unique learning opportunities for our children. We cannot afford to wait to green our schools. The opportunity is now and I’m thrilled to be working with BPS for the next three years to realize this transformation.”

If you are looking to learn more about the “green fellow” project or looking to help Phoebe achieve some of the goals then email her at:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Their final exam? Tutor an award-winning teacher

by Sharon Hessney
Mathematics teacher at the John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science

I have been a math teacher for fifteen years who has been awarded one of four 2011 – 2012 Capitol Hill Albert Einstein Distinguished Fellowships.  Our 2010 – 2011 school year ends at 1:45 pm on June 28th.  At 4:00 pm, I will be on a plane to Washington to commence three days of interviews with the offices of senators and congressman.  Based on these interviews, I will offered positions for the coming year.
I know much about mathematics (I probably won the position because I am a seasoned statistician), but what do I know about the operations of Congress?  Not much more than what I learned in high school and what I can glean from reading the newspaper.
I needed to get prepared.  But how?  Read a book?  Go on the internet?  Wikipedia? 
Fortuitously, I bumped into one of the graduating seniors just after she had completed her Advanced Placement United States Government exam.  I asked her for suggestions.  Together, we discussed how her class, taught by Dr. Jim Diskant, could brief me.  When, I discussed this with Dr. Diskant, he recommended that the class’ answering my questions about the workings of Congress could be the class’ final exam.  He prepared a list of preliminary questions.  As teams, they prepared their answers. 
On Tuesday, May 31 and Wednesday, June 1, I came to their class and fired away questions. 
• What is the basis in the Constitution for Congress to act on educational issues? 
• How does legislation move through Congress? 
• How do the committees operate? 
• How does the House of Representatives relate to the Senate? 
• What percentage of the votes are needed to pass legislation?  Does it matter what the content is of the legislation? 
Dr. Diskant called on groups in order to respond and rebut.  I could ask for clarification and offer follow up questions.
At the end of the first day, I left the students with two questions that I would ask the following day.
• What is the status of education legislation in Congress?
• Where would you recommend that I work – the Senate, the House, or an Education Committee, and why?
After two days, the students had clearly seen that what they had learned could be used in the “real world” – Ms. Hessney working on Capitol Hill.  I was not asking the questions to give them a grade, but, rather, because I needed this information for my upcoming interviews and for working on Capitol Hill next year.  The requirement for completeness and accuracy was so apparent. 
Also, the students got to see the tables turned.  Their teacher needed their knowledge. 
And, possibly, some day, they, too, would need this knowledge to do their jobs well.

Two juniors last week provided their reflections on the final:

One student explained:  "For our Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics class final, we had the honor of tutoring our very own Ms, Hessney, a winner of the Einstein Fellowship award. She will be working very closely with Congress next year, and the class of 15 students were able to do a sort of "question and answer" session to prepare Ms. Hessney for her job in Congress. It took two class periods, but I think we were all able to really help her prepare for the work she would experience once in Washington DC. It was a very interesting two days, as Ms. Hessney asked us question after question about the nitty gritty details of congress, a refresher to the rather difficult unit we took a few months back. Each of her questions took some of us by surprise, and it was interesting to see that she was very prepared, and that Ms. Hessney really studied up on her reading about Congress. The session was also really tiring in a positive way, having us look back and forth from our notes and textbook to answer her questions. Still it was a very fun way to remind ourselves about Congress and the U.S. government, and I am glad to have been able to partake in such an event."

Another student added:  “I am a junior in the AP Government and Politics class at the O'Bryant with Dr. Diskant. I believe the way that the final was given was a great way to express the class' knowledge on what we were taught.  When certain questions were asked I felt very confident in the information that I was given and the information that my peers were discussing. I think that having the final in this way helped me realize how politics work and it gave me a chance to be placed in a situation in which government advisers could be placed."
Hessney, a 2011-2012 Einstein Fellow, won the 2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Farm to School: providing food options

Farm to School is an initiative that looks to change the culture around food in BPS cafeterias by providing healthier options for students, while also educating them about those options. Farm to School works with local farmer's market to provide locally grown fruits and vegetables to BPS. The program which piloted in 2008 currently services over 58 schools.

In December 2010, the "Local Lunch Thursdays" program was launched. The program featured a local fruit or vegetable from a farmer's market on Thursday's school menu. One item that was on the menu was rutabaga. The rutabaga was cut into sticks and roasted into "fries" so that the natural sugars were drawn out. The menu was a hit! Students starting requesting for its come back. During a site visit from one of the staff members from Farm to School, a student stopped the staff member and asked, "When are you coming back with rutabaga fries? Those are really good!" It's important to note that all of the locally grown produce served on the lunch line has been purchased within the budgeted amount for fruits and vegetables per a reimbursable meal.

Farm to School is not only given students options by letting them taste all types of natural foods, but also empowering them by letting them decide what they may or may not eat. If students can request rutabaga by name then what's next...the kohlrabi?

Currently Farm to School is developing cycle menus that will most likely be implemented next year.

To learn more about Farm to School:

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Trotter runs for recess

On May 14, 2011, the Trotter School partnered with Playworks Metro Boston, an organization that encourages learning through physical activity during recess, for the second annual 5k Run for Recess at Franklin Park Zoo.
The event included a one-mile run for kids and over 30 participants, which were staff members and friends of the Trotter School. The school raised over $800 for its recess program.
To learn more about the Playworks program check out:

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The First Golf 'IT' Mentoring Event with TechBoston Academy

On May 24, 2011 the Boston Society for Information Management (SIM) and the New England Chapter of Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) partnered with TechBoston Academy for the first Golf 'IT' event at McGolf in Dedham. During this event students from TechBoston were partnered with mentors from SIM and HIMSS and learned the art of golfing.

The students that participated in this event were 24 technology leaders at TechBoston Academy. Mary Skipper, Headmaster of TechBoston Academy, was thrilled to have her students partake in this event. She stated, “TechBoston Academy students are tech-savvy and this opportunity to meet with professionals who are daily using the skills we teach in classes will give the teens a connection to the real world of work and a better understanding of the path they'll need to get there. These IT professional associations have come up with an innovative way to inform our students about careers in high tech while exposing them to golf fundamentals. I know it will be a memorable day in their young lives.”

To learn more about The Boston Chapter of SIM and The New England Chapter of HIMSS, check out the following sites:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

First in Math puts a BPS school in first place statewide

Ellen Latham’s (far right in photo) 8th grade Algebra 1 class at the Gavin Middle School is participating in the on-line First in Math program.  They are currently in First Place for the top team in the city of Boston and the top team in the state of Massachusetts.  First in Math is a math website offering practice on broad math content, with an open-ended, self-pacing design that is great for differential instruction.

The program includes a “competition” component that offers the students sustained, positive motivation.  Christine Hall, Senior Program Director for Secondary Math, provided First in Math accounts for every Boston Public School student in grades 3-8, allowing for hundreds of students throughout the district to correctly solve math problems, earning points that accrue to their personal and classroom score. The program includes math problems that address all Massachusetts state mathematics standards.

Latham says, "My Algebra 1 students yearn for the rigor and challenge of the problems on First in Math, and they love the excitement of competing against friends at other schools for the top ranking."  She adds, "This has been one of my most successful implementations, and I have received a significant amount of positive feedback from parents and families whose children are now using their home computers and Internet access to strengthen their math skills."

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

2011 BATEC College Fair: Our Future is High Tech!

On Friday, April 1 over 1000 BPS high school students attended the 8th Annual BATEC College Fair. The event was sponsored by two National Science Foundation grants – BATEC (Boston area Advanced Technological Connections) and CAITE (Commonwealth Alliance for Information Technology Education). These two NSF grants were created for under-represented students in Massachusetts to pursue post-secondary programs and careers in information technology.

Students who were enrolled in high tech courses were invited to attend the event. There were thirty-eight colleges offering IT-related majors in attendance. In addition, organizations such as TERI, Access, and Success Boston were also present.

During the event students had the opportunity to meet advisers for one-on-one college sessions and to set goals. There was also a 45-minute career-focused presentation by representatives from Microsoft, Cisco and ITA Software.

The students learned that opportunities in the high tech field are limitless!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Alliance for a Healthier Generation supports BPS nutrition efforts

Our friends at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation just sent this letter to members of the Boston City Council. We are so grateful for their support and for their wonderful work combating childhood obesity:

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation would like to acknowledge the tremendous efforts put forward by Boston Public Schools to support the health and well-being of its students and staff. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation was founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation in 2005. The Alliance’s goal is to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015 by fostering an environment that helps all kids pursue healthy and active lifestyles. Boston Public Schools has participated in our Healthy Schools Program since 2007 and has worked diligently to establish healthy schools as the norm and not the exception. 

Since joining the program, numerous schools in Boston have worked on assessing and improving in the areas of health education, competitive foods and beverages, school meals, staff wellness, before and afterschool programs, physical education and activity, and policy and systems. Innovative ideas and programs from Boston Public Schools (BPS) have inspired other schools across the country and served as a model for building school/community partnerships, increasing the quality of health education, finding time for more physical activity in a limited school day and getting high school students to participate in a school breakfast program. Success stories from Boston schools have been showcased in our national newsletter more than ten times.

Seven schools from BPS have received a National Recognition Award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The National Recognition Award is an honor given nationally to showcase and acknowledge schools that have implemented changes in order to create healthier school environments. To earn an award, schools must meet best practice criteria established by the Healthy Schools Program Expert Panel and outlined in the Healthy Schools Program Framework.

Please feel free to reach out if you have questions about the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the Healthy Schools Program or the progress of Boston Public Schools in the program.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Ginny Ehrlich, Executive Director
Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Boston Public School students answer the call for help

With the support of BPS staff, Boston Public School students are aiding Japan through various fundraisers. Below are some of the activities that have taken place and will take place in the future. BPS applauds the schools’ efforts and support.

  • The Ohrenberger and Beethoven schools in West Roxbury held a “uniform free day” on Wednesday, March 16. Students were allowed to wear street clothes, rather than uniforms, once they made a donation to the American Red Cross. Last year, these two schools raised more than $5,000 for relief efforts in Haiti.
  • Students at the Eliot K-8 School in the North End are collecting spare change through April 1, and will send donations to the Red Cross.
  • Students at Snowden International School in the Back Bay are designing t-shirts and ribbons, with proceeds from the sale to go to the Red Cross.
  • Timothy Nagaoka, a BPS foreign language teacher currently teaching Japanese, worked with students to make a thousand paper cranes at Bradley Elementary School, Taylor Elementary School, Dearborn Middle School, and Timilty Middle School. The Japanese Consulate in Boston also worked with students to dedicate the paper cranes to earthquake and tsunami victims.
  • The Lee Academy Pilot School in Dorchester will host a representative from the Japanese Consulate for a “Japanese Awareness Day” on March 25.
  • At Greater Egleston, staff made announcements regarding the status of Japan. The school also plans to raise money.
  • The Hennigan School raffled four class parties. Students were able to buy raffle tickets to win: a pool party, a movie party, an ice cream party, and a pizza party
  • On Friday March 18, 2011 Curtis Guild Elementary hosted “hats for Japan.” Students and Teachers wore silly hats and brought in donations to support students in Japan.
  • The Quincy Elementary sold fruit smoothies during lunch. The fundraiser was a direct school-to-school effort, with money going directly to the Sendai school district.
  • The Red Cross Club at Boston Latin Academy will be teaming up with local community agencies to support the victims of Japan.
  • The Sarah Greenwood has planned four spirit days to raise money for Japan. There will be one spirit day per week for the next four weeks. To participate and be excused from uniform, students will pay $1 per day. The school has also planned a hat day, pajama day, wacky day, and favorite sport team day. The school hopes to raise at least $1000 for Japan, which will be sent to the Red Cross.
  • The "La Fe Club" at Kennedy Academy is carrying out a "Spare a Dollar Campaign" for two weeks to help the victims in Japan. The fundraiser will be from March 21 - March 31. The "La Fe Club" is a group of high school students committed to educate their peers about social issues affecting teenagers. The group is also committed to help people in need. The funds collected will be donated to the Red Cross.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Monument High’s “Wellness Warriors” Encourage Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

On March 1, Monument High’s “wellness warriors” were recognized for their leadership in promoting a healthy lifestyle.The group was formed through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, an in school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League.

The morning activities were filled with speakers and a fun physical activity. James Arena-DeRosa from USDA Food and Nutrition Service and child nutrition expert and dietitian Elizabeth Ward spoke to the audience about the importance of establishing healthy eating and living habits. In addition, the “wellness warriors” talked about their efforts to improve lunches and breakfasts with the help of the student body. Currently, they are looking to purchase a salad bar with the $3,000 program grant they were awarded. After assembly, students played a game of flag football against members of the school staff and Brandon McGowan, safety for the New England Patriots.

BPS congratulates Monument High for all of its great work.

To learn more about the Fuel Up to Play 60 program check out:

Saturday, February 05, 2011

USA Voice issue three examines rap music, the prom, and senioritis

The Urban Science Academy writers have settled into a demanding publication cycle for "USA Voice," and have just released Issue 3. Check out Osahh Aim's article on how students view the influence of rap music, Nathalie Myrthil's look at "senioritis" (complete with a GREAT photo and the diagnosis that "the only way to get rid of senioritis is to get a high school diploma), and Laurie Paris's profile of the Teens Lead at Work LEAPS program, which will be held over April vacation.
Read the full issue here!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Students produce 'USA Voice' issue two

Justin Milligan at Urban Science Academy has let us know that his journalism students have just put issue two of "USA Voice" to press. Once again, they tackle the issue of the future of their school now that the School Committee has voted to merge USA and Parkway Academy of Science and Health this fall. The issue includes voices from students, parents, and district officials as they work to create a combined school culture.
Check out the latest issue here!