Friday, January 18, 2013

School Report #6

Last Friday was a day of school visits. Two visits with two preschoolers is just a lot for those two preschoolers. And their Mama. But we persevered, even with an over-tired 3 year old who napped on my shoulder for the first 5 minutes of the second tour.

The first school we visited was the Sumner School, in the heart of Rozzie square. It's literally one block from the hubbub, and the best walking distance of all of the schools. It was also a very large school by local standards, with 540 students. Most of the Roslindale elementary schools are "single-strand", with one class per grade. Sumner has 2 classes of K1, 5(!) classes of K2, and a decreasing number of classes for grades 1-5. The school, like the other schools I've visited, was OLD. The ancient brick construction came with large windows and spacious classes, like the other schools. I'm consistently amazed with the ability of the schools to make old and dreary buildings look positively cheerful and full of life. The school boasted separate rooms for a gym, cafeteria, theater room, and visual arts room.

Here are some of the detailed notes I took:

  • They have a full-time nurse.
  • Frequent teacher and Principal calls are to be expected.
  • The school has many partnerships, including music with Berkelee School of Music, and drama with Brimmer and May School.
  • Music opportunities were plentiful, including violin lessons in first grade.
  • The school has won awards for innovation.
  • Each Kindergarten class has a full-time teacher and a full-time paraprofessional.
  • The school does not provide Advanced Work Programming, but does offer less-formal advanced work for appropriate children. Out of 20 kids who qualified for AWP, only 3 left to go to the official program. 
  • Each class gets 45 minutes of "special" every day, including art, PE, science, etc.
  • The gym teacher historically takes the kids next door to the community center for swim lessons. (But this year, it's being renovated, so he's teaching other things instead.)
  • Staff longevity is good, with many teachers volunteering after formal retirement.
  • Uniforms are standard, and the local Rozzie uniform shop gives a donation to the school when people buy their uniforms there.
  • In 4th grade, students begin a Friday "double-block", where 90 minutes are devoted to specials, including music, woodworking, gardening, knitting, computer, etc.
  • The play yard is small, but structured Playworks programming keeps the kids moving.
  • The before and after-school program takes 4 year olds, unlike many other programs.

The Assistant Principal did an amazing job of selling the school. The parent coordinator helped with the tour, and made friends with MeToo. The two of them held hands for the last quarter of the tour. Yet again, I left the school with the notion that we'd be very happy there.

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