Best Practices

Inclusion Means Everyone

Best Practices from the Phineas Bates Elementary School

The halls of the Phineas Bates Elementary School buzz with activity. Students hustle with instruments to music class. Leaders and teachers greet each student by name. Two students lead the school in the Pledge of Allegiance in English and Spanish. These hallmarks of this tight-knit elementary school community demonstrate the shared values of equity and inclusion that infuse the school culture. The Phineas Bates joins a select group of rapidly improving schools, recognized by EdVestors’ annual School on the Move Prize. How the Bates created this highly effective learning community may prove instructive for other schools looking to improve. Take a peek inside the Phineas Bates Elementary School to see the best practices in action.

Best Practice #1: Teacher Leaders Drive the Work


Leaders and teachers worked together as key decision-makers on teaching and learning issues. School leader, Andrew Vega, started a listening campaign at the beginning of his tenure as principal – meeting for an hour with every teacher. Read more. 

Best Practice #2: Inclusion and Equity as Core Values


The Bates leaders and teachers committed themselves to an inclusive school culture. When the district asked the Bates to increase the educational options for students with disabilities, the Bates staff approached this work by defining what it means to be an inclusive school. Read more.

Best Practice #3: Learning is Social and Emotional


Teachers and leaders prioritized teaching social-emotional skills to foster student engagement. In raising expectations for student learning, teachers and leaders at the Bates recognized the need to increase students’ sense of ownership in their own learning. Read more.


In Summary

Reflecting on the significant school-level changes that led to rapid improvement in student outcomes, the story of the Phineas Bates Elementary School demonstrates what is possible when a commonly-held set of values, focused on equity and inclusion, define school priorities. At the Bates, leadership is widely distributed, teachers share collective responsibility for student learning at the highest levels, and trusting relationships among students, teachers, leaders and families characterize community interactions. In the words of one teacher: “We know how good this community is, and we won’t go back.” Everyone at the Bates is invested in the school’s continued success.