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Monfredo: Academy - Right Fit for Your Child

Saturday, January 12, 2019


As a lifelong educator, teacher, principal and school committee member, I am passionate about public education and believe in the quote by Tom Brokaw,   “There is a place in America to take a stand: it is public education. It is the underpinning of our cultural and political system. It is the great common ground. Public education after all is the engine that moves us as a society toward a common destiny... It is in public education that the American dream begins to take shape."

As a community we need to do all that we can to provide the best education for all of our children.  Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets and no one solution to achieving this goal but if the community and the schools work together it can improve.   In the next few months the state funding issue will play a huge part in moving our system forward.  There are so many needs within our society and the schools are saddled with coming up with a plan without the financial resources. Schools can’t do it alone for there has to be partnerships within the community to assist the many needs of our students.

As a society and as a school system, every decision we make should be focused on the questions “is this best for our children?  Can we do more?  In addition, the schools need to continue to step up and look at solutions to the many issues that affect our students.

As a former principal and one who has observed the success of many principals let me create for you an imaginary journey through the Monfredo Elementary Academy and see what this school looks like.  Perhaps you may have seen some of this model at your child’s school.  Let’s get started….

As you walk with me into the school for the first time you see signs that welcome parents into the building.  The office staff greets you with a warm smile and says,” Thank you for coming into our school and how can I assist you?”  You are then escorted to the newly refurbished Parent Room.  The walls in the room are full of suggestions on how you can assist your child in learning and there are posters everywhere on the walls with messages …such as “The most important 20 minutes of the day is reading with your child.”  Another poster that caught our attention were … A house without books is like a room without windows.  ~Heinrich Mann.

As we continue our walk, every corridor has a positive message about school…”Reading is the Real Magic Carpet” and there is display of books and pictures of students flying on a magic carpet reading a book.

Next outside the teachers’ lounge there is another quote that serves as a reminder to staff… “There are no learning gaps in children, only opportunity gaps. It is our job to close the opportunity gaps.”

We also see a giant calendar for the month listing all of the activities taking place in the school and a list of teacher and parent workshops.  Teachers have workshops next week on “Read, Write and Lead.”  Teachers also have a collaborative meeting tomorrow by grade level to plan together and have time to discuss individual children.  In this school all of the children in their class are viewed as “their” children.  The teachers work on developing effective strategies that benefit both the children and their families.  We are told that the families love this idea of teachers accessing the educational setting and making collaborative decisions based on the best interests of the students and families.

As we venture forward we see a signup sheet for a monthly “Read aloud Day” for parents to volunteer to read in one of the classrooms and  there is a flyer for this Friday evening’s reading party … PJ Reading Night – come and meet Harry Potter.   In addition, kindness plays an important role in this school as we see quotes such as “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain.   More importantly, the school practices what they preach for they go out of their way to make parents feel that they are an important part of the school’s success.  The school makes it a point to let the children that they are special.

We are told that “relationships with students have been a key factor in making students feels good about their school and themselves.   Leading the way on the concept of relationship and modeling for the staff was its school leader, the principal.  The principal stated that no one wants to be on the outside looking in for everyone wants to be on the inside.  In the words of Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said.  People will forget what you did. But people will NEVER forget how you made them feel.”   A parent on our walk spoke to us the principal being in the schoolyard at recess time, interacting with the students and being visible to all at closing time.

Quietly we walk into a few of the classrooms to peek at the activities taking place.  We are greeted with a warm smile by the teachers and we see parents as volunteers working with a few of the children.  The teacher continues to interact with the students and goes from desk to desk encouraging and asking questions of each student.  We are in awe at the enthusiasm that the children have shown for learning.

Finally, we head back to the Parent Room and we are greeted by other parents.  We see parents working on projects for the teacher, and other parents putting together their school monthly newspaper.   We notice that this month’s newspaper not only has suggestions for parents on helping their child at home but has a principal’s book review column.  In addition, the newspaper lists several after school opportunities for the children from sports to clubs to chorus to help sessions.  As one parent stated, “Afterschool opportunities at this school are very important in this neighborhood.”

A parent comes over to talk to us and speaks about how great this school is and how the school offers her meaningful opportunities to engage and contribute to the school.  She went on to say that during her interactions with school staff they always respond to her concerns in a professional manner, whether or not they agree or disagree with her.  Also, the parent mentioned that the principal and staff take the time to call up parents with good news about their child when they do something special and how happy that makes her feel and her child.

Another parent spoke to us about the parent teacher partnership and the good communication that takes place.  She went on to say that her child’s teacher makes the time to discuss her child’s learning needs and gives her useful information on how she can assist her child at home.

As we head out the door we smile and think… yes, this is a school that I want my child to attend!

We do have great schools in Worcester and perhaps your child attends one such school as the Monfredo Academy.  Write to me and let me know your thoughts and how together we can make all schools even better and have all students develop a love for learning! My email address is [email protected]


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