City Connects’ work in Springfield Public Schools (SPS) was featured in the Spring 2012 issue [pdf] of the Springfield Educator. The conclusion of this school year marks the first year of City Connects’ implementation in six transformation (Level 4) SPS elementary schools. Next year, three SPS Level 4 middle schools will also be implementing City Connects.
The article comes on the heels of the first-ever gathering of community partners working with SPS, held on May 9. Convened at Springfield College, a partner with SPS and City Connects, the meeting marked the official launch of the Springfield “Wraparound Zone” Initiative. Wraparound Zones are an effort funded through the state’s Race to the Top grant designed to build district capacity to systematically address students’ non-academic barriers to learning.
Julie Donovan, the City Connects Program Manager in Springfield, welcomed more than 85 community partners to the meeting. Dr. Alan Ingram, Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, opened the day by discussing the importance of the connection between home and school.
“Twenty-six thousand students in our schools live in poverty. Morally, we can’t ignore it. Poor children can do well in school with the right supports,” Dr. Ingram said. Students only spend a small part of their day in the classroom, he said, so we can’t turn around schools by only looking inside the classroom. The solution is to bring fragmented parts of the community together to work on behalf of children.
City Connects is expanding to six turnaround elementary/K-8 schools in Springfield, Mass., for the 2011-12 academic year. This marks City Connects’ first expansion outside of Boston since its inception a decade ago. Through its Race to the Top allocation, Springfield Public Schools chose us as a partner to provide student support in its transformation elementary and K‐8 schools, and we are thrilled that the school year will soon be underway! Read the release (pdf) on our website here.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has named City Connects a “Priority Partner” for turnaround schools in the area of social, emotional, and health needs. A project of the Commonwealth’s Race to the Top grant, the Priority Partners for Turnaournd initiative is aimed at qualifying proven organizations to support district and school turnaround efforts.
“Children living in high-poverty urban settings face countless challenges that impact learning and healthy development,” said Mary E. Walsh, PhD, executive director of City Connects and the Kearns Professor in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. “As a priority vendor, we are pleased to have the opportunity to work with districts and turnaround schools across the state to address the out-of-school factors that can stand in the way of student achievement.”
DESE has identified vendors to be part of a Priority Partners for Turnaround network. The network will serve as a resource for districts and schools seeking partnerships with educational service providers to help turn around their lowest achieving schools by addressing the state’s priority conditions for school effectiveness, one of which is social, emotional, and health needs. City Connects will work directly with local districts, and in cooperation with DESE, to provide these services.
Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville just published a full review of the 2010 “Year in Education.” You can read the entire report here. Highlights include Governor Patrick signing the Achievement Gap Act, as well as Massachusetts earning the top score in the nation and $250 million in the Race to the Top competition.