Friday, September 25, 2015

Bridging the Home to School Connection

What family means to one BVP Family at ES1.
As a school that strives for and celebrates intentional diversity, culture is very important to us. At the start of every year, schools host a variety of academic and culture nights. These are events designed to bring together schools and families to celebrate our differences, unite as one and support the home to school connection. 

Last night Elementary School 3 (ES3) and Elementary School 1 (ES1) held their culture nights and had a great turnout! At ES3 families and scholars were asked to draw a picture of their families and at ES1 attendees were asked to bring in a family photo and illustrate or write what family meant to them. Staff was on site at ES1 to also share scholar data with families using the STAR assessment results as a forum to discuss progress and how families can continue to support learning at home.

Scholar Maribella Londono with Teacher Hannah 
Goodwin-Brown at ES3's first Culture Night. 
One outcome from the night at both sites was a beautiful mural showing what culture and family at BVP is all about.

To see more photos from ES1 and ES3's culture night follow these links:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

New School! New City!

By MacKenzie Pawson, a 5th grade scholar in Washington University advisory, a perfect attendance record-holder and an aspiring veterinarian.

On September 10th, I was one of the lucky scholars nominated to welcome guests to my new middle school building in Central Falls. I greeted Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee, Mayor James Diossa, and even the City’s Police Chief, James Mendonca. Everyone gathered to celebrate the opening of Blackstone Valley Prep’s new middle school location!
Scholar MacKenzie Pawson & Colonel
James Mendonca, Central Falls Police at the
Middle School Ribbon Cutting.

I can’t believe how much BVP has grown since I started six years ago as a Kindergarten scholar at Elementary School 1 in Cumberland. I’m really proud to say that I haven’t missed one day of school! It’s easy to want to come to school every day.

As I start my first year of middle school, I am especially happy that the new middle school is in Central Falls. I live in Lincoln, RI and will now have the opportunity to spend time in and experience a new community where some of my classmates live.

I’m learning in the first few days that scholars have a lot more freedom at the middle school and we get to participate in different after school clubs. I joined track with Ms. Volpe and get to walk down the street to Higginson, the sports complex in the city.

In addition to the after school clubs, I’m really enjoying social studies with Ms. Wright and Math with Mr. Howard and Mrs. Moscarelli.

I look forward to greeting and touring many more guests throughout the year. If you’ve never visited our school, please come soon and ask that I be your tour guide!

MacKenzie Pawson
Washington University, College Class of 2027

Friday, September 11, 2015

Commemorating a New Home

Scholar MacKenzie Pawson & Colonel
James Mendonca, Central Falls Police.
It was a beautiful morning. Yes, the skies were threatening rain. Yes, it was humid. Yesterday morning felt like a typical New England September morning, somewhere between Summer heat and crisp Autumn. It didn't matter because we were too happy to notice.

After months of preparation and planning, the permanent location for Middle School 1 (MS1) in Central Falls is full of scholars excited about their new home, including renovated classrooms and yes, lockers!

The ribbon cutting ceremony which took place yesterday morning was a wonderful way to celebrate this new beginning.  Balloons flanked the school's stage and colorful decorations crafted by scholars surrounded the room. Friends, family, staff, elected officials and partners came to celebrate and tour MS1's new building - a place BVP is proud to call home - and share in this milestone emceed by Central Falls Mayor and BVP Board Chairman James Diossa.

From left to right: Civic Builders CEO David Umansky, Father
Otoniel Gomez of Holy Spirit Parish and Central Falls
Mayor James Diossa.
From all of us here at BVP, thank you for sharing this happy occasion with us! A special thanks to Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Dr. Ken Wagner for joining in our celebration and of course to our partner, Civic Builders, for making this renovated space a reality.

To see our full album of photos click here.

To read our official press release click here. 

A video will soon be posted on our website for those who wish to hear and see more.

Pictured from left to right: Senator Edward O'Neil, Scholar Anika Stager, Head of School Joy Souza, Civic Builders CEO David Umansky, Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee, Scholar Dillan Fontalvo, Lincoln Town Administrator Joe Almond and Cumberland Mayor Bill Murray.-->

Friday, September 4, 2015

Building the Foundation

By Josh Falk, Founding Head of School - Elementary School 3

One Head of School's reflection on the start of the school year. 
For more photos from our first couple days of school click here.

This week marked the first day of a new school year for scholars, teachers and families. For kindergarten scholars and their families it was especially exciting as the first day of their school careers. For the BVP Elementary School 3 community, it was an extremely exciting “first day,” as it marked the first day of the founding year of a brand new school.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be a founding head of school at BVP – to build a new addition to the BVP network with the support of a talented and successful school and network team. Of course, along with excitement, I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility – for each tiny detail of the day-to-day workings, but also for setting direction and communicating the fundamentals of a vision of top quality education. So in this First Week (ever) for ES3, I share my humble vision of what I hope will be the foundations of our school community – the type of community we must be in order to achieve our mission of preparing every scholar for success in college and the world beyond:

Academic Rigor and Top Quality Teaching. Our curriculum must be robust and demanding, pushing scholars’ critical thinking and developing core skills that can be applied to any discipline. We must emphasize the importance of communicating: reading and listening thoughtfully and critically, as well as speaking and writing articulately. We must explore the "why" and "how," not just practice rote memorization and algorithms. And we must challenge scholars to think creatively in applying what they learn to solve real-world problems.
Teachers are integral to this process. The Latin roots of the word “educate” mean “to lead out” or “draw out,” implying that educators do not simply fill scholars with information, but rather draw out the knowledge and understanding that lives within each scholar. It is essential to have dedicated educators--the kind we have at ES3 and throughout our BVP community.

Differentiation and Intentional Diversity. To meet the needs of all scholars, our educational approach must be thoroughly differentiated. Whatever our scholars’ individual needs, whatever their strengths, whatever their background, our program must meet them where they are and build a program that sets high expectations for their personal success.

We must also intentionally acknowledge and celebrate the rich diversity of our community (and our world). As educators, we must be able to respond to the diverse backgrounds of our scholars and to prepare them to interact with a global community that grows more interconnected with each generation. As citizens, we must also commit to understanding different perspectives and addressing our own biases, sharpening our cultural consciousness and competence.

Community Partnership. To be successful, the vision must extend beyond the walls

of the school. We must establish a robust partnership with our families and build a school community in which we are all fully engaged and committed to the mission. This means continually communicating and collaborating with families. It also means building and strengthening ties among our four neighboring and diverse communities, uniting families and communities around a common mission of providing our children with the best possible education.

During this first week, we’ve been sweating the small stuff – the routine yet very important operational details of starting a school year, like making sure scholars get on the right bus, or finding enough trash cans to hold the breakfast trash. But as the first week stretches into the second, and the third, and into next year we must focus our attention on the foundations of the school we’re building. And if we commit to breathing life into these core foundational elements – academic rigor, top quality teaching, differentiation and intentional diversity, and community partnership – I believe we will set our scholars on a path to success for years to come.

About Mr. Josh Falk:

Josh Falk has been an educator in innovative, high-expectations charter schools for eight years and is proud to be a founding head of school at BVP ES3. Mr. Falk previously taught grades 2 through 4 with Achievement First in New York and New Haven, and was a member of the founding 4th Grade team at ES1. A former attorney, Mr. Falk was drawn to the powerful idea of educational equity for all and made a career change. He has been a dedicated educator ever since, committed to the idea that all children can be successful students and are entitled to a high-quality public education.