Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Next Generation Village

It all started with one Facebook post from BVP teacher, Connie Yankus:

BVP family, I am saddened to share that one of my Alaska scholars lost everything in a house fire last night. I am writing to ask for donations of gift cards, clothes, toys for the family as they are very much in need of clothing and basic necessities but also lost all of their Christmas gifts. My scholar is age 6, wears a 7/8 in clothing, and has a shoe size of 12. Her older sister is 7 years old, wears a size 8 in clothing and a size 1 in shoes. Any help would be tremendously appreciated. I am willing to pick up any donations and drop them off to the family- please private message me if you can help. Thank you so much.

The lightning fast support from our connected community was amazing.  75 comments and a short 48 hours later, and the response has been beyond incredible. About 50 BVP staffers pledged gifts from $5-$100 totalling about $1,000.  BVP business partners, families, friends, and extended networks have brought together more than a thousand dollars more in gift cards, plus bags of clothing, uniforms, presents, and even furniture to surround this family with support.  

To underscore the power of connectedness and the extended network of the BVP Team & Family, check out what happened when BVP’s Associate Director Lina Musayev leapt into action:

When I found out what happened, I didn’t waste a second and posted the BVP teacher’s message on a few of my Facebook group walls. After all, social media is the fastest way to get the message out these days. My friends and family all responded right away, however, these Facebook groups are filled with strangers - the only thing in common was that we were all parents. The response was incredible.

In minutes, I had people I did not even know messaging me that they were willing to give me clothes, gift cards, Christmas gifts, etc. Many even went out to stores to buy new things for the girls. I drove around for two days around local towns in Massachusetts, picking up bags upon bags. I was completely overwhelmed at the kindness of strangers. This family has a lot of very special guardians by their side this holiday season!

They say it takes a village to raise a child, or at least it used to- back when neighbors were perhaps a little more friendly and families lived closer together. The quick response and torrent of support that has arrived since Connie posted the request shows that it does still take a village- we just organize our villages differently now.

So the donations came flooding and Connie has had to promise about a dozen people that she will let them know when the family gets organized and figures out what other help they need.  It's heartwarming to know that when and if the family needs more help, it will be there.

Because of the BVP Team & Family as well as so many more that answered the call, this family is now in a much better better place than they were Saturday night when everything was lost. Thank you!

Sadly however, another family was also affected by this fire and is still in need.  They have four kids, also lost everything, they also have limited extended family, and their Red Cross provided housing is expired. So for those of you who have been thinking about making a contribution but haven’t yet done so, you can still give directly to the Central Falls Holiday Express. Please reach out to Jeremy at jchiappetta@blackstonevalleyprep.org to connect on how best to do so.

Friday, December 19, 2014

RIDE Releases 2014 Science NECAP scores

Rhode Island released the spring 2014 Science NECAP scores for 4th and 8th graders statewide on Tuesday. BVP was 54% proficient or better in 4th grade (vs. a state average of 41%) and 19% in 8th grade (vs. a state average of 23%).

Commissioner Gist did provide this caveat in the RIDE release of the test scores:

We need to be aware that the science assessments have fewer questions and require a shorter testing time than our mathematics or reading assessments. Because there are relatively few questions on the NECAP science assessments, NECAP science scores may vary from year to year. We do not, however, use the science assessment as a promotion or graduation requirement for students, nor for school classifications, nor for educator evaluations.

The reality is that no matter how you analyze the data, our country, Rhode Island, and BVP all need to improve dramatically in terms of effectively teaching science.  Since the spring of 2014, BVP has worked hard to do this, overhauling curriculum, adopting and adapting a K-8 vertically aligned science sequence, as well as having dedicated science content teachers at the elementary levels who are able to focus on science instruction.”

Individual results will be made available to families after the new year. For a complete list of all Rhode Island Science NECAP results by school and district, click here.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Why I Support BVP, and How You Can Help Our Scholars This Holiday Season

By Jessica Waters, BVP Board Member

Whether you have already donated to BVP's annual appeal this year, volunteered, or helped our scholars and schools in another way (and there are many), thank you for your generous support.

As a board member I get a unique chance to intimately see the great work that BVP staff, school leaders, and educators are doing for scholars. The level of commitment in these adults in this organization always amazes me. This commitment inspires me to want to support in any way that I can, especially knowing the financial need of the organization as it grows to scale.

As an educator myself, I am keenly aware that classrooms and schools need more support. It is especially true of educators who are serving our most needy populations. I strongly believe that an excellent education will equip kids with the necessary skills to be successful adults.

As a Rhode Islander, I firmly believe that we need to support successful proof-points for what public schools can and should look like. BVP's vision is to improve public education for all Rhode Islanders, and our vision energizes me. Moreover, even though my own daughter remains on the BVP waiting-list, I believe that supporting BVP is actually helping to improve all Rhode Island public schools.

The dividends for donating to this organization are exponential. It makes me think of the proverbial saying, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." BVP schools are teaching kids to read, solve complex math problems, treat each other with respect, show pride, write, play instruments, and so much more. They are being prepared for college and careers and will eventually be successful adult members of my community. Furthermore, with a dollar for dollar match currently available, your gift will have double the impact.

If you have not already, come visit BVP to witness this great work firsthand. I know you will be inspired in the same way and you will be asking, "Why not support BVP?"

Donate to BVP here.


In addition to being a BVP board member, Jessica Waters was the 2013 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year. She taught high school science for six years, and is currently completing her training in a principal preparation program.