Monday, January 20, 2014

GUEST BLOGGER- Mayor James Diossa: My Advice to Scholars on MLK Day

Central Falls Mayor and BVP Board Member James Diossa

When I think about Martin Luther King Jr. Day and what it means to me, many thoughts come to mind. I will share one that is close to my heart on this special day, and it is about the importance of education. 

Last Wednesday, the city of Central Falls held a celebration in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy at which scholars from Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP) Mayoral Academy performed, along with other young people from schools across our city. 

This is not the only occasion in which I have had the opportunity to see our scholars in action.  It is clear that BVP is a special place, and, like other schools in Central Falls, it is evident that the hard work of great teachers can do amazing things for all of our children, regardless of where they live. 

It is impossible to ignore that so many of MLK’s goals were dependent on bringing people together. What better way to do that than through the education of our young people, our future? 

So, while I know they are already in the great hands of their extraordinary teachers, I’d like to offer a few words of wisdom to BVP scholars and families on this special day:

1. Never stop persevering.  BVP has the value of perseverance for good reason. MLK once said, “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Give everything you’ve got, and then give some more. 

2. Give to others, and you will receive that and more. There is nothing more important than doing what you can to help your friends, family and neighbors. At the Central Falls MLK celebration, Progreso Latino talked about the importance of giving back to your community.  Do this, and do it often. 

3. Learn, learn, and learn some more. No one can ever take away from you the gift of knowledge. You’re never alone when you have a good book to talk to you. Read, read, and read some more. 

4. Believe in yourself. When you believe, your dreams become a reality.  Since I was first voted as Mayor of Central Falls, I have received incredible support from others who believed in me, but first, I had to believe in myself.  I had to believe that I could positively impact my community and provide leadership when we really needed it.  Now, we are showing Rhode Island that we are, in fact, a city that believes in itself and is on its way to a bright future.  

Celebrate the life of a great man today, but never forget the importance of the lessons MLK left behind.  
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way” 
― Martin Luther King Jr. 

I have all the faith in the world that you, BVP scholars, will do great things.  But you can do even small things in a great way. 

Best of luck to you, and keep working hard. 


Cuando pienso en Martin Luther King Jr. y lo que significa para mí, muchos pensamientos vienen a la mente.  Voy a compartir uno que está cerca de mi corazón en este día tan especial, y es sobre la importancia de educación.

El miércoles pasado, la ciudad de Central Falls tenía una celebración en honor de la vida y el legado del Dr. King, donde los becarios de Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP) Mayoral Academy participaron en una espectáculo estudiantil con otros jóvenes de escuelas de todo el país.

Esta no es la única ocasión en la cual he tenido la oportunidad de ver a nuestros becarios en la acción.  Está claro que BVP es un lugar especial, y, como otras escuelas en Central Falls, es evidente que el trabajo duro de los maestros puede hacer cosas increíbles para todos nuestros niños, independiente del lugar donde vivan.

Es imposible ignorar que muchas de las metas de MLK dependían de reunir a la gente. ¿Qué mejor manera de hacerlo que a través de la educación de nuestros jóvenes, nuestro futuro?

Mientras sé que ya están en las manos buenas de sus maestros extraordinarios, me gustaría ofrecer algunas palabras de sabiduría para los becarios y las familias de BVP en este día tan especial:

1.       Nunca te des por vencido.  BVP tiene el valor de la perseverancia por una buena razón. Una vez, Martin Luther King dijo, “Si no puede volar, corra, y si no puede correr, camine, y si no puede caminar, arrastrese, pero en todo lo que haga tiene que seguir adelante.”  Da todo que tienes, y luego da un poco más.

2.   Da a otros, y recibirás esto y más. No hay nada más importante que hacer lo que puedes para ayudar tus amigos, familia y vecinos.   En la celebración de MLK en Central Falls, Progreso Latino habló acerca de la importancia de dar a la comunidad.  Haz esto y hazlo a menudo.

3.      Aprender, aprender y aprender más. Nadie puede quitarte el regalo del conocimiento.  Nunca estás solo cuando tienes un buen libro para hablar contigo.  Leer, leer y leer más.

4.      Cree en ti mismo. Cuando crees, tus sueños se hacen una realidad.  Desde mi primera elección como  Alcalde de Central Falls, he recibido un apoyo increíble de otros que han creído en mí, pero primero, tenía que creer en mí mismo.  Tenía que creer que yo podría impactar mi comunidad positivamente y proporcionar un liderazgo cuando lo necesitábamos.  Ahora, estamos demostrando a Rhode Island que somos, en realidad, una ciudad que cree en sí mismo y está en camino a un futuro brillante.  

Celebra la vida de un gran hombre hoy, pero nunca olvides la importancia de las lecciones de MLK.

“Si no puedo hacer cosas grandes, puedo hacer cosas pequeñas en una gran manera”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

Tengo toda la fe en el mundo que ustedes, los becarios de BVP, harán cosas grandes.  Pero también pueden hacer cosas pequeñas en una gran manera.

Mucha suerte y sigue trabajando duro.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Common Core: Thoughts from BVP High School Designer Jonathan Santos Silva

Before joining the team at Blackstone Valley Prep, I taught high school math in a small rural community in South Dakota. I enjoyed my time there for many reasons, but one thing that troubled me about my experience was the chronically low expectations set for the scholars we served. Whereas scholars in many communities take Algebra 1 for the first time in 8th or 9th grade, my scholars in small town South Dakota were rarely offered Algebra 1 until 10th, 11th, and even 12th grade. Knowing that most colleges expect to see Algebra 2 or higher levels of math on transcripts, I realized early on that my scholars were being knocked off the path to college and successful careers, impacted by low expectations.

I welcome the Common Core State Standards in our high school design because they provide consistent and clear guidance for teachers and administrators. They aren't perfect, and neither were the standards that they have replaced in 45 states across the country. What they do represent, however, is a strong statement that we as a nation are raising expectations for all children, from the Blackstone Valley in Rhode Island to the Badlands of South Dakota.

A concern was raised last Tuesday night at the Common Core Information Session that our scholars would graduate 1.5 years behind because of the Common Core. That couldn't be further from the truth! The Common Core Standards represent the floor, not the ceiling, for a school's academic plan. Over the last few months I have spent countless hours with BVP's academic team and experts across the country building our program of studies. BVP will continue in our unwavering commitment to using standards as a launchpad for continually pushing the bar of rigor higher for our scholars.

At BVP High School, this means preparing every scholar to take Advanced Placement level Mathematics by the 11th or 12th grade (among other AP offerings). By completing these courses, our scholars will be ready for the rigors of college academics and on a pathway to great careers, including those in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields.

All in for Day 1!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Rhode Island Department of Education hosts Common Core Information Session at Blackstone Valley Prep

On Tuesday, January 7, the Rhode Island Department of Education hosted an informational session for Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP) families at Elementary School 1 in Cumberland. 

The presentation started with an introduction by Executive Director Jeremy Chiappetta and Director of Academics Lori McEwen, as well as Cumberland Mayor and BVP Board Chair Daniel McKee. The program continued with an overview of the new standards and concluded with a question-and-answer period for the audience.  

You can watch the full video of the event here, read live tweets from the event @BVPrep on Twitter, and enjoy pictures below. 

Executive Director Jeremy Chiappetta and Cumberland Mayor and BVP Board Chair Daniel McKee welcome over 100 members of the audience in attendance. 

Families were also able to get a preview of upcoming events, including National School Choice Week, which will run January 26-February 1.