Boston Green Academy is a Horace Mann In-District Charter School founded in 2011. It has a school-wide commitment to preparing students for leadership in “green” careers, and has recently been named a Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. It is located in Brighton in the former Taft building at the corner of Warren Avenue and Cambridge Street, and now serves 500 students in grades 6-12. I was invited to visit by Eileen Shakespear, an officially retired teacher who works part-time at BGA to support new staff members.
In Mia Lefkowitz‘s high school ESL class, students are exploring “essential places” in Boston and working on creating a City Guide, while ESL teacher Alexandra Ibarra Carbona helps seventh graders learn parts of speech as they use pictures and words to create sentences in English.
Outside Matthew Johnston‘s Spanish classroom is a big display of student-created posters about Taino culture, and Ms. Murray’s seventh grade Humanities students are learning about Haiti. A focus on multicultural literature is evident in Daphnee Rameau‘s high school ELA class, which is reading Flight, by Sherman Alexie, while Erica Phifer‘s middle school students are reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. All students are also given time in ELA classes for reading books of their own choice from varied and full classroom libraries.
Art teacher Jen Turpin is from the Eliot School, which partners with BGA to provide rich experiences for students, and I see examples on display throughout the building. In the gym, Shantell Jeter‘s seventh graders are practicing eye-hand coordination by seeing how high and for how long they can keep a ball in the air with one hand.
Environmental sustainability is an important topic in science classes, given BGA’s curriculum focus. Seniors in Erica Wilson‘s physics class are hosting small groups of middle school students, proudly showing and talking about the passive houses they had designed. In Chris Donnelly‘s Environmental Science class, 11th grade students work on an experiment to measure how much water soaks into the ground after it rains and how long it takes.
Secondary teachers often feel pressure to “cover” curriculum material with “time on task” rather than attend to social emotional issues. Tra’Neal Holloman-Rodgers, however, begins her math class by asking each student to share three words describing how they’re feeling that day. In the hallway a large bulletin board gives examples of ways to “Be Kind to Your Whole Self” and another celebrates individual students nominated by a staff member for acts of leadership and service.
What does YOUR school do that supports the creation of a safe and welcoming learning environment for all? Please invite me to visit!