In 2005, the Boston Teachers Union, as part of its negotiations with the Boston School Committee over introducing Pilot Schools into the mix of schools available to Boston families, came to a unique and exciting agreement. The Boston Teachers Union would open a new, teacher-run school, the first in the country. We wanted this opportunity because we believe that our teachers have important insights and knowledge that often goes untapped in efforts to improve teaching and learning.
On September 10, 2009, the BTU School opened its doors with one class each at grades K1, K2, 1, and 2, one Primary Transition Class for young children with special needs, and two classes at grade 6. The school added one grade to the lower grades and one to the upper grades each year until September 2012, when the school became a complete K-8 school with one class at grades K1-5 and two classes at grades 6-8.
The BTU School was founded on the principles of democratic governance. The goal of the planners was to design a school in which all major curriculum and instructional decisions are made by the faculty as a whole. Recognizing that day-to-day decisions need to be made on operational issues, two of the teachers were designated as day-to-day leadership. They were Berta Berriz, formerly a teacher at the Charles Sumner School, and Betsy Drinan, formerly BTR Site Director at the Lilla Frederick School.
The faculty are committed to working together to develop an innovative and rigorous professional growth program for teachers and paraprofessionals, including a professional development center and an evaluation program. Like all Pilot Schools, it has a governance board and it also has an advisory board.
The BTU School offers students a wide-ranging, liberal arts curriculum, combining high standards and rigorous instruction in mathematics and language arts, but at the same time encouraging the study of social studies, along with natural sciences, and a foreign language. It also is committed to providing opportunities for students to develop their skills in visual arts and music, and physical education.
The Boston Teachers Union School has joined with Simmons College to form a Professional Development School. Simmons works with the teachers on developing the model for shared leadership and on curriculum development. It will place Simmons college interns in the Union School classrooms and also work with the school faculty to participate in action research in collaboration with university faculty while documenting their experiences.
The school is located in the former Parkman School building on Walk Hill Street in Jamaica Plain. Students living in the West Zone can apply through the regular public schools application process.
Interested in having your child become a student at the BTU School? Visit the BTU School website to learn more.