. SCHOOLS, from Page 5
Classroom instruction has also been bolstered.
“South End schools are taking a focus on instruction, on teacher leadership and on using student data to inform their work,” said Bree Dusseault, executive director of the Southeast region schools.
Dusseault described how principals are in the classrooms every day to better determine how to push teachers for a more effective learning environment.
Additionally, Dusseault said that the schools have highlighted the Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in which teachers are put into small groups and meet once or twice a month to collaborate and brainstorm with colleagues on how to better teach. PLC members may bring in student work or data they collect from their teaching to analyze together, creating a venue for collaborative problem-solving and idea-probing.
“We are working on examining the gaps [between the South End school achievement vs. other SPS districts],” Dusseault said. “Once you know what they are, you can problem solve; you can use teachers and principals to make improvements.”
The South End schools are working hard to overcome negative reputations they have acquired within recent years.
Dusseault said that open-house events for prospective parents goes a long way in addressing the issue. (Hawthorne has its open house on Wednesday, Feb. 8, from 6 to 8 p. m.)
“If parents go into the schools and see them, their visits will be different from what they were expecting,” Dusseault said. “That is helping to change this.”
The South End school PTAs have also strengthened other aspects of school life, such as the performing arts and extended teaching time. They have also implemented an open-door policy between parents and teachers so feedback can be submitted at any time.
Ayers said that these efforts can and will pay off.
“We have been working very hard to spread the word to our neighbors and community and even to the school district that good things are happening here at Hawthorne,” Ayers said. “Everybody is on the same page, and you can feel that when you’re at the school. Hawthorne is a really special place to be.”