Opening Day 2012

I was proud to be able to spend some of the opening day of the Boston Public Schools 2012-2013 school year in the renovated building that Mission Hill K-8 School and the newly founded Margarita Muniz Academy (MMA) now share. I am honored to have been on the planning team for Mission Hill so many years back, and more recently for the MMA. I have to say I didn’t even recognize this building, which used to be occupied by the Agassiz school… the BPS has done a wonderful job renovating the space!

Opening any new school is no easy feat, and opening a new school in a newly renovated building has additional changes – but I could feel Margarita’s presence in the purples and the reds that Dania had selected for the walls and the logo, and I know Margarita is approving of all the choices. I have full faith that Dania and Ayla will continue to keep the vision as they work on the many details of running a school- best wishes for a successful year to them both!

Even when districts sometimes seem to have trouble systematically bringing good work to scale, it is worth noting and celebrating all the good things going on in BPS this year, including opening another new school in addition to the Margarita Muniz (the Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School) and renovating two schools in addition to the MMA and Mission Hill Elementary (New Mission High School and BLCA at the Hyde Park Education complex). And congratulations to Fenway High School, which was just selected by the US Department of Education as a national “Exemplary Improving” Blue Ribbon school!

It is worth noting that Mission Hill K-8, Margarita Muniz, Dudley Street, and Fenway are all either pilot schools or in-district innovation schools. The question I ask is: What can we learn from the success of these schools to help the entire district be successful? And how can a district be more active in helping all schools achieve more autonomy?


1 Response to “Opening Day 2012”

  1. 1 Marc Seiden September 14, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    The question is an important one Linda. As I look back on my years at BAA working with you, I think the first thing I would work on is building our schools’ capacities to support meaningful Professional Development. At BAA, I entered as a brand new teacher – someone coming from privilege and fully invested in figuring out how to work beyond the limitations that privilege brings to deeply understanding the work of an urban educator. I think there are many new teachers who enter the profession under those same circumstances, but I got 10 years at BAA of something that most teachers don’t get: a vocabulary and grammar for thinking about the work – a collective wisdom that derived from the professional community at BAA. You seemed to see your role as leader to both direct that culture, but also to facilitate it. Too many leaders at too many of our schools think their job is to have the answers rather than to help ask the right questions and support the collective of teachers to develop answers – answers which inevitably, as you always say, only lead to new questions. This is the culture I see lacking as I work in other schools that continue to struggle to find their footing.

    Our leaders need professional development to help them re-evaluate the nature of their role – to insert the notion of facilitation along with (if not instead of) setting direction. Or better yet, our teachers need to be empowered to see themselves collectively as the source of the wisdom each of us seeks as individuals

    I’m sure there’s more to learn from successful pilot schools, but this is the one that sticks out to me from my experience.

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