Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Today I Got Schooled by Third Graders

by Jen LoPiccolo

I had just sat down to put the finishing touches on a grant when my calendar reminder popped up to tell me if I didn’t leave right then, I was going to be late for ES1 Town Hall.  I thought for a few seconds about blowing it off, knowing that if I kept working on the grant, I would be able to hit send and check it off my growing to-do list.  Still, I made a promise to my son that I would be there.  Torn, I grabbed my coat and headed out in the pouring rain. 

When I arrived, I was one of several family members greeted by smiling excited scholars dressed as farmers, chickens and even kittens (compliments of Farm Day). Mr. Porteous was beating the drum rhythmically, inviting us to join in on the fun.  Very quickly, I began to realize I was exactly where I needed to be...the grant application could wait a few hours.

But it gets better.  The first items of business were classroom chants.   

One class proudly chanted, “our class is just dynamite” immediately followed by the BVP-famous “firecracker” cheer. 

Next was a cheer set to the lyrics of a pop song, “Best Day of My Life” only scholars recited confidently, “College ready-got no doubts. Success is what it’s all about. This is the gonna be the best year of my life.”  Success IS what it’s all about!

Shout outs followed each classroom chant, designed to put a spotlight on scholars who exemplified BVP PRIDE values this week.  It never gets old to watch scholars cheer for each other when those name are called, as if they too had received a shout out.  In truth, I am often reminded that the adults watching can take a few pointers from this back into our own lives. 

And last but definitely not least, was a chant written to the tune of Journey’s, “Don’t Stop Believing.”  Have you got the tune in your head? Okay, you may continue reading.

Just a four town school
Where education’s super cool
She took the learning train
Goin’ college bound
Just a city boy
Born and raised in Central Falls
He took the learning train
Goin’ college bound

Pretty awesome, right?

I awoke this morning to Google alerting me to yet another article in which BVP was mentioned.  I have to admit, I paused for a moment and took a deep breath before I opened the email (because not all articles are as encouraging as this one). Now when I read it again, colored by the recent inspiring words of our scholars, I am reminded that I can’t stop believin’. YOU can’t stop believin’ either! If we can remain focused on the long game, supporting our students on their learning train, we can find the courage and inspiration to solve just about any challenge that comes our way.  

The 3rd graders sang the chorus of their new (and improved) Journey tribute even louder :
Don’t stop achievin’
Hold on to that feelin’
Clever scholars
Don’t stop achievin’

Wow, would missing that have been a mistake!  I am so grateful today (and every day) to our teachers and scholars for schooling me in what’s important. 

Now, back to the grant...


Jen began her career as an English teacher in rural North Carolina.  Prior to her current role as Director of External Affairs at Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy, she spent more than 10 years between Louisiana and Texas working in a variety of roles in the non-profit and charter sectors.  Jen is a member of Leadership Rhode Island’s Theta II class, a Teach For America alum, and the proud mom of two BVP scholars.  

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