Welcome to a new year of celebrating the learning that goes on every day, in every Boston Public School... please invite me to visit yours!
Principal Mary Driscoll welcomed me to the Edison K-8 on Day 4 of the new school year, and gave me a quick orientation to the location of classrooms in their E-shaped building. There are almost 800 students in this unusually diverse school in Brighton. Originally a middle school, the Edison became a K-8 four years ago. One of the teachers told me that the population of the school continues to change, this year adding a large number of SEI classes for English Language Learners... almost 40% of the student body!
The Edison’s core values are called the “5 Rs” and are prominently displayed in hallways and cafeteria: Respect, Responsibility, Resourcefulness, Righteousness, and Rigor. In each classroom teachers engaged students in describing what these values look and sound like in their subject or grade level. Class meetings started the day in several rooms. Before closing their morning “Circle of Power & Respect,” the sixth graders in Meredith Busher’s class shook hands and greeted each another in one of the many languages spoken by their families.
Students throughout the school were participating in a variety of activities to build community at the beginning of the school year: making large “All About Me” posters, interviewing one another, reviewing expectations. I was impressed by the attention that the staff gave to respectful interactions between students. One example was the P.E. teacher insisting that students demonstrate good sportsmanship by shaking hands before running a race with a classmate.
The theater arts teacher, Emily Culver, was having students get to know one another with a “Class Bingo” activity, and I was delighted to receive a hug from one of her students! Originally trained in theater, she has obtained grants to support her program and to offer an after school class for younger students. In other classes students were reading, writing, exploring maps, setting up notebooks, and pursuing all the “traditional” core curriculum activities. The Edison is well on its way to creating a positive culture for learning; here’s hoping you’ve experienced some of the same promising beginnings!
Amika Kemmler Ernst is a recently retired BPS New Teacher Developer with extensive experience as a classroom teacher, curriculum developer, and graphic artist. Her “We’re Learning Here” Project features images of everyday learning in our public schools, along with the words of the students pictured.