Lowell Public Schools Doors Open 2016-2017 - First Wednesday of every month at 10am
This past Wednesday marked the first tour date in a 10 month Doors Open series, an effort by the Lowell Public School system to increase transparency and community involvement. The schedule for each school’s tour is at the end of this article. This month, we visited the Molloy, Bailey, and Daley Schools. I'll cover the Daley School in this post. Check here for the Molloy and here for the Bailey.
The James S. Daley Middle School is just across the playing fields and up the hill from the Bailey School. The Daley is at 150 Fleming St, Lowell, MA 01851, in the Highlands neighborhood of Lowell. The Daley teaches grades 5-8.
Principal Liam Skinner calls himself a talker, and he had lots of great information about establishing and maintaining a school culture of excellence for staff and students. He named an administration rule: Instruction is sacred. So they do things like teach kids not to say “Hi Mr. Skinner!” when he visits a classroom. Every door was open, and as we stepped into classrooms on this hot and humid day, everyone just kept working. I am envious of their focus!
Mr. Skinner spoke of the challenges of instructing kids when it’s so hot. He’s seen the hot days last longer into September and begin sooner in May, and expects the trend to continue. How can 30 stinky, sweaty 7th graders packed into a hot classroom learn well when they’re so uncomfortable? There were fans blowing at the ends of the hallway, and buckets to catch the leaks from last night’s rain. He says it takes years sometimes for repairs to be completed. They’re waiting for better security as well: even though visitors at the front door are buzzed in, some doors around the building stick and don’t lock.
Kids who go to Special Education classrooms at the Morey, Pawtucketville, and Bartlett elementary schools will often go to middle school at the Daley. There are several classrooms at the Daley dedicated to teaching life skills to kids with autism or other developmental delays.
Here are some of the other things Mr. Skinner shared.
- Schools used to be satisfied with sorting kids into sections of smart kids and average kids. Currently, the standards are set high for everyone, and the challenge is to get everyone to meet them. It’s also a challenge to challenge the fast learners.
- The Daley teachers are showing kids how to study (great idea - wish someone had shown me!) and teaching that effort matters, not just getting the correct answers.
- LPS needs to recruit great teachers and pay them well. There seems to be a professional culture in Lowell. Teachers will never get rich here, but they feel they can make a difference.
- Can LPS reflect the demographic population of the students in the teachers they hire? Not yet successful. Minority staff are in the minority. Paraprofessionals, however, reflect the community composition, and LPS is working on the pipeline for paras to become teachers. 92% of teacher education program students are white in Massachusetts, which means LPS needs to work with the universities and colleges.
The Doors Open tours of Lowell Public Schools will take 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. Please call or email to RSVP so they can reserve the right amount of transportation - email@example.com or 978-674-2162.
9/7/16 Molloy Career Academy, Bailey, Daley Schools
10/5/16 Sullivan, J.G. Pyne, Leblanc Schools
11/2/16 Butler, Shaughnessy, Cardinal O’Connell Schools
12/7/16 Peter W. Reilly, Stoklosa Schools
1/4/17 Bartlett Community Partnership, Robinson Schools
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