Excellence in School Wellness Awards to 4 City Connects Boston Schools

Last month, Boston Public Schools (BPS) bestowed Excellence in School Wellness Awards to 13 schools, four of which were City Connects schools. Congratulations to the Edison K-8, JFK Elementary, Quincy Elementary, and Trotter Elementary schools, whose innovations promoting student health and wellness were commended at the Sixth Annual BPS Health and Wellness Summit!

“Collectively, these schools demonstrated innovative efforts in creating connections to improve the school environment to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” said [BPS Superintendent]  Dr. Johnson. “For a school to be successful in its mission to provide an education for all students, it must prioritize their physical, mental, and emotional health.”

Health is one of the four domains central to City Connects (along with academics, social/emotional, and family). With the support of the New Balance Foundation, our School Site Coordinators lead school-based health and wellness initiatives that teach students how to make healthy choices about nutrition, exercise, and social relationships. The New Balance Foundation Health & Wellness program increases students’ health literacy, resulting in better behavior, work habits, and effort in the classroom. These skills help students combat critical issues like obesity and bullying—both in and out of the classroom. In short, healthier students are better students.

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City Connects in the Boston Globe

Today’s Boston Globe featured a story about the fate of Boston’s persistinly low-achieving “turnaround” schools once the 3-year stint of federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) expire at the end of the 2012-13 school year. The article, “Boston schools seek to avert slip when funds end,” discusses efforts to improve academic achievement at 12 turnaround schools funded by SIG, one of which is City Connects. From the article:

Dever Elementary School in Dorchester used its $2.3 million grant to extend its day by an hour and contract with the nonprofit Generations Inc. to bring in senior citizens to tutor students, the nonprofit Playworks to run organized activities during recess, and the nonprofit City Connects to help students and their families obtain health care, housing, and other services. “It is very important that we are able to keep the additional time at a reasonable cost or we are at risk of losing a lot of what we have accomplished,’’ said Michael Sabin, Dever’s principal.

When Boston received School Improvement Grant funding for the 2010-11 scho0l year, City Connects expanded into 7 turnaround elementary schools to provide optimized student support. Read more about that expansion here.

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New Report Assesses Community Partnerships in Boston Public Schools

Schools at the HubA new report released today, “Schools at the Hub: Community Partnerships in the Boston Public Schools,” [pdf] presents extensive baseline data about the types and extent of partnerships providing supports to students and families across all of Boston Public Schools.

The report, based on a survey administered to all school principals at the end of the 2009-2010 school year by the Massachusetts Full-service Schools Roundtable, reveals that more than 200 organizations partner with schools across the city. By analyzing 10 areas of support offered by Boston schools, including tutoring, mentoring, on-site mental health services, adult education, before- and after-school programs, school-based health clinics, and university partners, the report also showed some unevenness in partnerships across schools and called for greater equity in service distribution to meet the needs of all students.

As of Spring 2010, areas of need uncovered in the report include middle schools, who lagged behind other school levels in areas of mentoring, tutoring, prevention programming, after-school programs, and on-site mental health services. In addition, less than one-third of schools reported including community partners in their strategies to serve English language learners and/or students with disabilities.

At City Connects schools, School Site Coordinators utilize the Student Support Information System, a database that allows them to keep track of the service and enrichment activity providers serving students in their schools. City Connects has nearly 300 partners [pdf] who provide a range of prevention, enrichment, early intervention, and crisis intervention services to students and their families.

For more information:

  • Read the Boston Public Schools’ press release [pdf] about the report

Back-to-School News

Superintendent of Boston Public Schools Dr. Carol R. Johnson was featured in two interesting WBUR radio stories focused on the opening of Boston Public Schools tomorrow:

Questions For Carol Johnson, Chief of Boston Public Schools

Next week, more than 56,000 Boston public-school students will walk into the classroom for the first day of school. And while classrooms may look the same, much has changed behind the scenes. Radio Boston talks with Boston School District Superintendent about Race to the Top funding, turnaround schools, merit pay, and the contract negotiations with the Boston Teachers Union. Dr. Johnson mentions City Connects, formerly Boston Connects, about 3 minutes in.

In the South End, a Last-Ditch Effort to Save a School

An important experiment is underway this school year at some of the state’s lowest performing schools. The state has given the city unprecedented authority to essentially push the “restart button:” the students will largely be the same, but new teachers and principals are meant to bring new energy and ideas into the classroom. A lot is at stake as these public schools try to prove they can educate poor students.

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