Lowell Public Schools Doors Open 2016-2017 - First Wednesday of every month at 10am
I'm a Lowell mama with a son in 3rd grade in the Lowell Public School district. When LPS announced that there would be tours of several schools once a month, I found that I was curious enough about the schools in my community that I decided to take some time out of my work day to attend.
I'll share some of my experiences, since other parents might find it useful to see what I saw. Feel free to use these posts as a starting point for discussions about our schools.
On Wednesday, January 4, 2017, we visited the Bartlett Community Partnership School, which is located at 79 Wannalancit Street in the Acre neighborhood of Lowell. Principal Peter Holtz is in his 4th year at the school, and he and some student guides gave us a tour. We heard about the students, the building, and successes and challenges at the school.
Our student guides were the Secretary, Vice President, and President of the Student Council. The secretary is in 6th grade, and the others are in 8th. They told us that at school, they feel safe, welcomed, that everyone's accepting of different communities, and that people are kind.
The Bartlett is a Level 1 school, which indicates the highest level of student academic achievement on the state tests.
The "Partnership" part of the school name refers to the community partnerships fostered, especially with UMass Lowell, with participation from 4 of the 6 colleges, and with MCC (Middlesex Community College). I asked how Peter and his staff identify the opportunities for their partner schools. He said they say "yes" by building leadership and partnerships, then the opportunities happen. When more people are making connections, it makes for a better experience for all. However, he wants to let the teachers focus on teaching, and works to make sure the helpers don't interfere with that.
They have a full-time administrative coordinator who works on the service learning opportunities for the college students - this person shows and tells the helpers how to help in the classroom. This includes any preparation needed before arrival, what to do at school, and anything else needed to make sure the helpers feel like a resource instead of like extra work. He says it's an incredibly useful experience for college students, and it helps stretch every dollar available for the school. Students can be tutors, volunteers, helpers, do demonstrations, and do student teaching.
Peter was asked if he's sharing how to partner with other schools. Says he hasn't, that his focus is here. He's happy however to meet and explain, and there are presentation materials that the UML partners have generated. Says that papers should be written about their process, and that it should be scalable city-wide, state-wide, nation-wide.
A week after the tour, I went to my son's PTO/SSC (School site council) meeting at the Rogers. We had a discussion about homework, and one of the parents mentioned how helpful it would be for student teachers to be able to help elementary kids with their homework. I gave a quick synopsis of the Bartlett's partnerships, and Principal McCrevan said he'd speak with Principal Holtz about finding community partners. Hey Anne, the tours worked!
Next year the Bartlett is piloting an urban teaching residency (!). Students will come teach for a whole year, in exchange for a stipend for school. They'll be full-time employed, and take the licensure test. Says it's a great way to see how individuals work, that supervision is built in, and that it's helpful because the school can figure out if they might be a good match for future employment there.
The Building -
Final Thoughts -
The Doors Open tours of Lowell Public Schools takes place every First Wednesday of the month from 10am-12pm. Arrive early at 155 Merrimack Street, 4th floor, to get checked in. Bring your photo ID.
2/8/17 Christa McAuliffe, Murkland, Greenhalge Schools
3/8/17 Moody School, E.N. Rogers STEM Academy
4/5/17 McAvinnue, Pawtucketville Memorial, Dr. An Wang Schools
5/3/17 Morey, Abraham Lincoln Schools
6/7/17 George Washington, Laura E. Lee Schools