This site aims to inform and mobilize Beverly parents to take an active role in all issues related to the funding and operation of the city's schools. It was launched in the spring of 2008, when the city saw its first-ever override attempt fail, followed by the closure of a nearly-new elementary school. Subsequent years have seen further cuts that have led to larger class sizes across the district. While the opening of an impressive new high school and plans to replace the city's aging middle school give us reason to be optimistic, the school community must be ever vigilant in demanding appropriate school funding by city and state governments, and better community communications from the district and School Committee.

Friday, August 19, 2011

New BHS Programs Get Front Page Attention

Two progressive new programs at Beverly High School were featured this week on the front page of the Salem News.

On Wednesday, the paper reported on students picking up their Macbooks for the first year of the school's much trumpeted one-to-one laptop initiative, the first of its kind in the area.
Principal Sean Gallagher said that about 1,000 of the high school's 1,250 students have signed up for the program, which allows students to rent a laptop for the equivalent of $28 per month and to use the computer in the classroom and at home. 
Those who don't agree to pay will be loaned a laptop but will not be allowed to take it home. 
"We're really excited," Gallagher said as he stood in the cafeteria, where Apple representatives in red polo shirts handed out the laptops in black carrying cases.

"That's a great amount of students involved already, and once the program is up and running, we're sure more will become involved," Gallagher said. "No one will be without the technology." 
School officials have touted the program as the wave of the future in an increasingly technological society. Students who picked up their computers yesterday seemed generally excited about the idea.

Then on Thursday, the paper again featured BHS on page 1, this time covering the new Freshman Academy, a program made possible in part by the school's winning of a Smaller Learning Communities Grant last year.
More than 220 of the school's 350 incoming freshmen showed up yesterday for an orientation designed to introduce them to what school officials are calling Freshman Academy. 
Under the new arrangement, freshmen will take most of their classes on the top floor of the new four-story high school. They will be divided into four teams of about 90 students each. Each team — which the students have named Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Celtics — will include teachers for English, math, science and social studies, as well as a special education teacher. 
Guidance counselors, school adjustment counselors and a group of "peer mentor" upperclassmen will also be assigned to the teams. Each team will have its own Moodle page, an online course management system that students and parents can access. 
"We're very excited about it," said Assistant Principal Elizabeth Taylor, who will oversee the Freshman Academy. "Freshman year is a tough year for kids. It's a big transition. Beverly has been pretty good at rescuing them, but we want to be proactive instead of reactive."... 
Taylor said the team teaching, peer mentoring and grouping of ninth-graders on one floor are all geared to creating an environment in which each student is well-known by four or five people in the building, from teachers to counselors to peer mentors 
"It's the personalization of learning," she said. "'We know who you are. You're important. The work here is important, and we're going to help you.'"
Its great to see the press catching on to some of the progressive thinking happening at BHS and in the Beverly schools.

8/29 UPDATE:  Sunday's Boston Globe also focused on the high school's laptop program.