Tag Archives: WPS students

THE WPS SCHOOL YEAR BEGINS – PARENTS, GET INVOLVED!

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Future music major! pic:R.T.

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee

As summer vacation comes to a close, I hope that our students have engaged in learning activities throughout the summer, especially reading on a daily basis. As school begins, many parents have huge smiles on their face – others become very apprehensive.

As a former school principal (Belmont Community), let me remind everyone that not all teachers are parents, but all parents are teachers. Parents are children’s first and most influential teachers, and all school systems must do more to involve parents in the learning process. Research has clearly shown that there is a critical link between parent involvement and student achievement.

Schools need to give more than “lip service” to involve parents in the learning process. Parents need to approach their child’s school and let staff know that they are interested in being involved! Parents, STAY INVOLVED!!

Let’s see what I can do to take away some of the stress of going back to school! First, it’s important that parents right now set up a bedtime schedule, for sleep is at the center of a healthy child and enables them to do well in school. According to research, it’s essential that parents keep a bedtime routine, especially during school time. Research suggests an hour before bedtime – put away all electronic devises to help kids wind down. Use that time for reading to them, or give them the opportunity to read for 30 minutes in bed.

Parents need to develop good management practices at home for their children such as homework time and packing their backpacks before turning in and placing them at the outside door. Speaking of backpacks, parents need to retrieve them as soon as their children come home and get those papers out … sign permission slips and add school appointments to the family calendar. Routines can be a potent force in keeping everyone on the same track. Consider a checklist for the simple tasks of who gets to use the bathroom first and what’s for breakfast. What you need to do is be organized – doing so takes the stress out of the day.

Let your child know that school is a number one priority for him. Do it by word of mouth and be setting up realistic schedules, such as for homework. Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework. Avoid having your child do homework with the television on or in places with other distractions.

Make sure the materials your child needs, such as paper, pencils and a dictionary, are available.

Ask your child if special materials will be needed for some projects and get them in advance.

Help your child with time management.
Establish a set time each day for doing homework. Most important – don’t let your child leave homework until just before bedtime. Think about using a weekend morning or afternoon for working on big projects, especially if the project involves getting together with classmates.

Reading time at home…make reading for 20 minutes a day – a part of your child’s routine.

Show your child that the skills they are learning are related to things you do as an adult. If your child is reading, you read, too. Parents, your child was born to be a reader and a writer. Someone has to show them the way and that person is YOU! It is your job to help your child enjoy reading or to be motivated to read.

Every day is a learning moment. Here are some fun activities to do with your child:

Many children’s movies and television shows are based upon stories and books. Encourage your child to read books based on the story or television show. This is a good way to get adolescents and reluctant readers involved in reading books.

There are many wonderful children’s magazines available. Get a magazine subscription as gift, and this could stimulate your child’s interest in reading.

Encourage your child to write letters to friends, relatives – or even to Worcester School Committee members! (We love hearing from students!) Your child could also send a letter via e-mail to a friend or relative.

In addition, parents also need to make every effort to meet their child’s teacher early in the school year.

Teachers are always very excited about meeting their new students and new parents. It is always best to make an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher to introduce yourself and let them know you are there to support your child’s learning. Taking time to meet and introduce yourself and your child to the school principal is also a way to let your child know other adults at the school are there to help him/her. These are especially good ideas to use if your child has special needs or if the family is going through difficult times, such as divorce, an illness, death of a family member, or a recent or pending move.

Other ideas for parents/guardians:

· Learn everything you can about your child’s school

· Review the school’s handbook and the school district’s web site

· Contact the teacher immediately if your child doesn’t understand an assignment or if you notice a change in your child’s behavior or school performance.

Worth mentioning: participate in parent meetings and conferences and special events at the school. Do join the school’s Parent Organization.

Best wishes for a great school year!

Should you need any advice, please feel free to contact me at monfredoj@gmail.com.

WPS students – always in style! … AFTER 15 YEARS THE MISSION IS THE SAME … THE HOME AND SCHOOL WORKING TOGETHER

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WPS inner-city students and families … ASPIRE!! pic:R.T.

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee

Congratulations is sent out to InCity Times‘ editor and publisher Rosalie Tirella on their 15th anniversary. The newspaper continues to be an alternative newspaper, with a goal to support those individuals most in need in our community.

One may not always agree with editor “Rose” (including me), but the idea of supporting, giving advice and advocating to those in need is a good concept. Rosalie grew up in the Green Island area of the city and knows the hardships that individuals experience – she has been a strong supporter of our inner-city parents.

As a matter of fact, at the age of 21, my first teaching assignment was at Lamartine Street School, and that’s where I first met Rosalie and her lovely mother. Rosalie was in my 5th grade class!

Since those early days, I have continued to reach out to our inner city parents with ideas and advice that hopefully make a difference in the lives of their children. I did it as a teacher, as the principal of Belmont Community School, and when I retired I still wanted to make a difference. That’s why I ran for Worcester School Committee.

Believing that a parent is a child’s first and most influential teacher – every school needs to have as its highest priority parent involvement within the schools.

You don’t need to be a researcher to know that family involvement can make a positive difference in school attendance, student behavior and academic achievement. What is needed is for schools to develop and ensure that parent involvement is embraced and not just given lip service. All schools need to welcome family members to their school. If schools don’t, the lack of positive interaction will stifle family-school connections.

Here are just a few suggestions for all schools:

Place positive signs on the schools entrance doors welcoming parents to the school.

Invite family members to eat lunch with their children. I can tell you that it works because I did it at Belmont Community School. We don’t have to feed the parents – they can bring in a lunch and spend time with their child. How about having lunch with parents on the first Friday of every month?!

Invite family members to attend workshops on important concepts that are taught to their children on a regular schedule. Inviting parents into the school for a special workshop does work! It serves as a way for the parents to assist their child at home.

Have staff and the principal make phone calls to invite families to participate in special events, meetings or other activities. Here in Worcester we have the Connect Ed. system where the school can invite parents to special events via the telephone.

Let’s go a step further and call parents with good news! It could be if a child had success on a test or just had a great day in school. Let me tell you it works! I did it for over 20 years at Belmont! Parents loved hearing good news and were more receptive in coming to school because of the call. Let’s start with that one positive telephone call.

Be sure that language translation is available in the office and for conferences and other contacts with parents.

Have workshops on reading and math. All families want to help their children, but many parents may not know how and that’s why the schools must reach out to our inner-city parents.

Have a family center stocked with learning materials that families can take home. Such a center would be a welcome addition for the schools . A Family Center should be part of each school – a special place in school where family members can meet, plan and implement programs.

In essence, schools must create a culture of wanting parents to be involved by modeling their beliefs, in both words and deeds, to the entire school community.

When families of all backgrounds are engaged in their children’s learning, their children tend to do better in school, stay in school and pursue higher education. Clearly, children at risk of failure or poor performance can profit from the extra support that engaged families and communities provide.
Remember, the research is clear: When parents play a positive role in their children’s education, students tend to do better in school. That all important teacher and parent PARTNERSHIP must be part of every school!

Good luck, InCity Times, on your 15th birthday and for the next 15 years! Continue your mission of involving inner-city parents in the learning process!

WPL news parked in A.I! … New Worcester Public Library school branch to open Friday!!!!!

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The new WPL branch at Burncoat Prep! Go, Worcester kids, go!! pic:R.T.

WORCESTER PUBLIC LIBRARY BURNCOAT BRANCH BUILDS A WELCOME ADDITION TO THE SCHOOL COMMUNITY

Newest Elementary School-Based Library to Serve the City of Worcester
as Part of the “One City, One Library” Initiative

 
WHAT: The opening of the Worcester Public Library Burncoat Branch at the Burncoat Street Preparatory School on Burncoat Street will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting and ceremony.One City, One Library is a private-public partnership focused on improving literacy skills citywide.
 
The Burncoat Branch includes all new books, iPads, computers, electronic literacy stations, a SmartBoard, and comfortable seating.

Public hours will begin April 1, 2016 at 4 p.m. 

During the school year the branch will be open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. 

Additional hours will be added during the summer months.
 
The One City, One Library collaboration between the City of Worcester, the Worcester Public Library, the Worcester Public Schools, and other organizations dedicated to education, has opened public library branches in four of the city’s elementary schools.

These branches offer the wealth of resources found at the public library, including technology, new materials, and professional librarians, and bring them into our schools.

These resources are accessible to students and teachers during the school day. The library is open to the public when school is not in session.
 
WHERE: Burncoat Street Preparatory School, 526 Burncoat Street, Worcester
 
WHEN: Friday, April 1, 2016     
9 a.m. Library Opening Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting with Mayor Joseph M. Petty, City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr., and representatives from the Worcester Public Library, Worcester Public Schools, and community partners.
 

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Rosalie at the Worcester Public Library Greendale branch yesterday – returning materials, checking out cool new stuff. This WPL branch, located on West Boylston Street, is ALWAYS BUSY! Go Celtics!

Editor’s note:
Why isn’t this happening in GREEN ISLAND, LOWER VERNON HILL, GRAFTON STREET, PIEDMONT/CROWN HILL, VERNON HILL, QUINSIG VILLAGE??!!!!!! So many poor/needy kids in these neighborhoods NEED and WOULD LOVE TO HAVE such a wonderful neighborhood resource!
– Rosalie Tirella

The proposed academy for gifted WPS students at Doherty High School: a closer look

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Worcester’s Doherty High School is located on Highland Street. (photo: Rosalie Tirella) There will be a public hearing on the proposed academy this month. Please attend and voice your ideas/opinions!

By Edith Morgan

For some weeks I had been hearing that the City of Worcester was considering establishing a “gifted and talented program” at the high school level.

I have always been interested in the education of that particular, usually neglected group (at least in Massachusetts public education) – we have long had many kinds of academic enrichment programs, academic advancement programs, (AP and others) and more and more opportunities for students to pursue their areas of interest, be they science, math, language, and the various performance and production arts.

So when our editor asked me to look into these plans, I was happy to get the information, and to try to understand what was being proposed.

On December 4, 2014, Worcester School Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone presented a proposal to the Worcester School Committee, which was being developed as a result of Mayor Joseph Petty’s announced goal at his inauguration in 2012 to establish an exam school in Worcester. He appointed an Ad Hoc Committee which was charged with “studying the feasibility of establishing an exam school for students in Grades 9 through 12 which would develop and promote academic excellence relevant to success in the 21st century” as stated in the Ad Hoc committee’s report in February 2013.

By June of that year, the committee’s recommendations went to the superintendent who was charged with creating the proposal that went to the school committee in December 2014.
A great deal of research, discussion, visiting of other programs, and study of what was being done elsewhere, went into the final report and recommendations of the Ad Hoc committee. Its members were drawn from educators at all levels, parents, and community members – to solicit the widest possible views.
In the “background” section of the proposal, Dr. Boone summarizes present programs offered by the Worcester Public Schools, at various levels and trying to serve gifted and talented students at all levels.

In the Burncoat quadrant students with gifts, talents and interests have many opportunities, often recognized for their achievements, in music and the arts. Also, academically high achieving students are offered 23 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at no cost in the Worcester Public Schools, and there are opportunities to earn college credits while still in a Worcester public high school through dual enrollment in local colleges and universities.

The report emphasizes that this pilot program is not to replace any of the existing programs but is to offer an additional option, and promises to support and enhance existing programs.

According to Dr.Boone, “It should be clearly noted and understood that this ‘Pilot Innovation Academy’ is not designed to replace or supplant an of the existing programs serving gifted and high achieving students. Rather, the “Pilot Innovation Academy” will be an additional option within the Worcester Public Schools portfolio of school programs and options. The district will continue strong support and enhancement of those existing programs.”

The program is supposed to attract students from all over the city, “who have demonstrated exceptional interest in and ability to be successful in a rigorous high school program of studies leading to advanced college readiness.”

When I inquired why have it a Doherty High School, I was told it was the most centrally located of our high schools, a consideration since these students would have to be bused in from all over the city.

There would be room for 250 students in the school, grades 9-12, with no more than 62 students in any grade. The first class would be ninth graders. The curriculum to be followed would be that of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. focusing on English and literature; languages and culture; individuals and society; including history, geography, world religions, global politics, experimental sciences – i.e. chemistry, physics, biology, chemistry environmental science, and mathematics.

Anyone wanting details on the curriculum, its history, the nations and states using it can Google it (ibo.org, and for a definition, see Wikipedia) and do further research, as this program has been in existence for many years, in many places. Students could get a certificate, or if they take the final exam, a diploma.

The report includes a detailed, long list of application criteria, to be reviewed and scored by a panel made up of local higher education members. If, as often happens with new programs, there are too many students eligible, there will be a lottery.

The report includes a detailed budget, which includes costs of $236,000 for the year of planning, with two fulltime staff members, a fulltime clerical member, and $80,000 for staff development and miscellaneous expenses associated with starting up this program. In the succeeding years, costs will involve $1,050,500 for year 1`; $1,146,550 for year2; $1,877,412 for year 3, and $1, 969,049 in year 4, the year the first group “graduates.” Details are available from WPS administration.

Further costs for transportation can not be figured until we know where the selected students will be coming from.
The final section of the report contains a detailed timeline, starting with the December initial presentation to the school committee, then expects the school committee to schedule at least one public hearing on this idea, with oral and written comments to be received. From January through August 2015 the first year’s planning and training and hiring will take place, and in August 9 of that year and advisory council will be appointed.

In gathering the above material I spoke to a number of people who asked a number of questions, regarding location of the program, selection criteria to be used, the cost and source of the funds at a time when some of our classrooms have over 30 students because staff were laid off, and with many in only half-time kindergarten, and the advantage of IB over AP programs. There are also questions as to what effect this program would have on existing programs already working well in our schools. I would be very interested in the answers to these questions. This program is to be voted on yet, and there is much work to be done before the first class begins, if approved, in September 2016. Dr. Boone has already received comments and continues to hear from interested parties. Hopefully, there will be much input when the school committee, after voting approval, holds its first public hearing this month.

On a deeper philosophical level, I am concerned that this is a mere extension of existing programs, heavy on academics and testing, and not “innovative” but merely “new” to our schools. Massachusetts has always done well by the academically talented, as demonstrated by our #1 position in the various tests. But there is a great difference between the enrichment programs and the academically advanced programs, and the very rare, genuinely gifted programs, of which there appear to be very few in the public sphere in the U.S.

The criteria for identifying the creatively gifted, the innovators and the inventive, are quite different from those used to find those who will succeed in college. In my experience, the creative and innovative, who are so very important to our future, tend not to test well, tend to express boredom with routine and give unexpected answers to questions. They tend to take risks and pursue their own preoccupations, and are often the bane of teachers, as they give answers that are unexpected or of a higher order than those scored high by the test=makers. Study the life stories of the great inventors, the real innovators, the creators. They are characterized by unusual motivation in areas that fascinate them, they are not afraid of failing time and again in pursuit of an idea, and they are able to look at problems in different ways and see many solutions. They often score poorly on IQ or achievement tests, but seek solutions that may someday save us from disease, war, and other banes of civilization. They DO NOT usually appear in IB or AP programs. But they DO appear in the oddest places, regardless of family income, background, color, or culture.

If we were going to really innovate, these are the students we should find and nurture, as they are badly under-served. The IB program offers a great academic challenge above and beyond our AP programs, beginning at an earlier stage. Keep tuned …

Still time to donate coats to WPS’s “Coats for Kids”

By Paula Harrity, coordinator of volunteers, Worcester Public Schools

Every day school is in session, more than 23,000 students converge on the Worcester Public Schools. More than two thirds of these children are poor, many do not speak English as a first language in their home, and increasingly, the Worcester Public Schools welcomes refugees who have come here from war torn nations, and they have witnessed first-hand the horrors of mass destruction and hunger.

The Coats for Kids program provides new winter outerwear to needy children who attend the Worcester Public Schools, Worcester Head Start, Community Partnerships and for Children, and several area homeless shelters. This service began 25 year ago and serviced 400 children. Last year (2010-2011) 2,200+ children were given new winter jackets, hats & mittens. This past year the program was expanded to secondary students. In addition, a quantity of winter jackets, hats & mittens were provided to the Parent Information Center to have on hand for needy families arriving from other countries.

Students who receive this service are referred by the building principal or program directors. All of these children are at or below the poverty level and qualify for free or reduced school lunches. The program takes place from mid October to mid January. Families are very thankful for this assistance for this service during these very difficult economic times.

This past year the program expanded to include secondary schools, the SAMS program, ACT program (all sites), Adult Education and Alternative Education programs.

Individuals who donate to this program range from individual community members; to church, work and family groups. Individuals or groups can get the information and do the shopping themselves or send in a donation and the Worcester Educational Development Foundation, Inc and Junior League of Worcester assists with the shopping. We also have a group of shoppers from RSVP-Worcester Area Volunteers who assist with shopping.

We are also very fortunate to have so many corporate/business partners for this project. They donate funding, serve as drop off sites and get employees involved in the program and serve on the advisory board.

This program is administered through the Worcester Public Schools Volunteer Office.