The Grew Elementary School serves about 250 students in Hyde Park, not far from Cleary Square. In its first year of “turnaround” status, it has utilized additional resources to support teacher collaboration and students have already made significant progress.

I began my visit in the gym, where Paul Duhaime was distributing jump ropes to small groups of third grade students and helping them practice collaboration, one of the school’s core values. Behind a screen of cabinets at the back of the gym, first graders were building small houses with squares of corrugated cardboard in art class with Miss Rose” Igoe. Despite the crowded space and noise from the physical education activity next door, she has created a welcoming environment for children to happily work on a variety of art projects.

As most of her second grade students worked independently to answer questions about the story they’d read, Elsa Bourque taught a guided reading group. Dianne Hays was showing her kindergarteners how to use their arms to sound out letter/syllable sounds as they took turns writing the words for all to see. JoAnn Brown‘s fourth grade students were meeting in self-guided literature groups; one group was reading and discussing The Hunger Games. Fifth graders were reading pieces from their writing notebooks to the class with coaching from their teacher, Kevin Somers.

First grade students were working on math. Natasha Gordon demonstrated a lesson on the rug, after which her students built walls of the same height and width using geoblocks. In Nadine Riggs‘ classroom, students tried to fit blocks onto different sized rectangles or worked on duplicating interlocking cube constructions. Second graders in Quayisha Ferguson‘s class were also working on geometry concepts, identifying right angles in a variety of two-dimensional shapes.

In Janet Lynch‘s small science room, fourth grade students were busy building vehicles. Technology teacher Brian Vitarisi brings computers and tablets to classrooms for a variety of activities. A “Grew Specialists Newsletter” for parents briefly explains what students in each grade will be working on this spring in the four specialty classes offered. What a great idea!

ESL teachers Kara Lysy and Abda Rebecca Lee shared their enthusiasm for the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues on a regular basis. It was heartening to see one of the school’s core values modeled by the staff!




Amika Kemmler-Ernst, Ed.D.