On the “far side” of West Roxbury and less than a mile apart, the Beethoven (K-2) and the Ohrenberger (3-8) have been transformed over the past few years into a K-8 “Pathway School” serving nearly 1,000 students.
At the Ohrenberger, I could hear trumpets blaring as I walked to the office! I later learned that Making Music Matters! – a program funded in part by the BPS Arts Expansion Initiative – offers instrumental music lessons to the school’s third, fourth and fifth graders. In a more traditional music class, middle school students were learning the words to “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize... Hold On!” Referring to the linked arms of freedom marchers during the Civil Rights movement, teacher Kendrick John introduced it by telling them: “The only chains Martin Luther King, Jr. liked were human ones!”
I watched a small group of eager fourth graders learning about similes and metaphors with Resource Room teacher Erin Palid. Posters summarizing key information related to the respiratory system were displayed outside a middle school science classroom. In a portable building housing art and dance classes, Clare Vadalia Clark was teaching third graders how to create self-portraits using mirrors and reference sheets showing how to draw eyes, noses, etc.
At the Beethoven, I inadvertently entered through a door to the gym, where a lively dance class was in session. A variety of language activities was underway throughout the school: students in one class working independently to sort words with short/long vowel sounds, a group of Iselda Colonette’s second graders practicing a play, and Susan Doughty’s kindergarteners reading aloud to one another. Elaine Capobianco’s first graders were working in small cooperative groups, using several different non-standard measuring tools. Elaine and I met many years ago through the IMPACT II Network – does anyone remember that amazing program, where teachers shared their creative curriculum ideas with others throughout the system?
I noticed teachers wearing “THINK COLLEGE” T-shirts and learned that they’re worn every Friday in both schools. If you were to wear a school T-shirt every week, like the teachers at the Beethoven and Ohrenberger, what would you advertise? What are your school’s central beliefs/goals? Please invite me to visit... there is so much learning going on all over BPS and so many children’s voices to be heard!
In solidarity and with warmest regards,
Amika Kemmler-Ernst, Ed.D.