19 Boston Education Organizations Call on Mayoral Candidates to Detail Plans for Education at Public Forum

Candidates Give No Airtime to #1 Issue Among Voters

[Boston, October 8, 2021]


We — the members of ACT Boston — call on our two mayoral finalists, City Councilors Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi-George, to engage in a live public discussion of their plans and priorities for improving Boston’s deeply inequitable public education system. Recently, our coalition and its 19 member organizations — which represent thousands of students, families, and educators — were disappointed to learn that no public forums dedicated to discussing preK-12 education in our city prior to the election have been planned.

Education was ranked as the #1 issue on mayoral voters’ minds in the most recent public poll. The Mayor will oversee a $1.3 billion annual education budget — a third of the city’s budget — as well as the spending of an additional $430 million in federal education recovery funding over her term. More than 50,000 school-age children attend Boston Public Schools, and there are tens of thousands of additional students in Boston currently enrolled in public charter schools, METCO, or private schools, and early education outside BPS. These children and their families and caregivers deserve to hear more details from these candidates on how Boston’s next mayor will make education a priority.

It is urgent that Boston’s next mayor is willing to engage in an in-depth public discussion of preK-12 education issues in our city. Stakeholders and voters need to be able to ask questions about their vision, plans, and priorities before the November election. This issue cannot be ignored.

We implore both candidates to participate in a public forum that our coalition will co-sponsor prior to the November 2nd election. It would be done in partnership with a major media partner and would be live-streamed so Boston families, students, and voters can hear where each candidate stands on this critical issue.

About ACT Boston: 

All Children Thrive (ACT Boston) is a non-partisan coalition of non-profit and community-based organizations raising awareness of educational inequities in Boston and holding city leadership accountable for equitable opportunities and outcomes for all of Boston’s children. Learn more at actboston.org.

Our member organizations include: Boston Opportunity AgendaBoston Plan for ExcellenceBoston Schools FundBoston SpEdPACEast Boston Social CentersEdNavigatorEdVestorsGeneration CitizenHyde Square Task ForceLatinos for EducationOneGoalSchoolFacts BostonSmart Start BPSThe Education TrustThe Steppingstone FoundationThe Teachers’ LoungeUnion Capital BostonUnited Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley, and West End House.

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Deb Colbert, deb@teakmedia.com
Dominic Slowey, dslowey@sloweymcmanus.com

New skills today equal equitable workforce tomorrow

The May 19, 2021 Bay State Banner op-ed by EdVestors President & CEO Marinell Rousmaniere, “New skills today equal equitable workforce tomorrow”, outlines the opportunity for advancing racial equity through the JPMorgan Chase five-year $35 million initiative, New Skills at Work, across six cities. EdVestors serves as lead partner for New Skills Boston alongside Boston Public Schools, Bunker Hill Community College, University of Massachusetts Boston, the Boston Private Industry Council, Massachusetts Executive Office of Education, The Boston Foundation, and the City of Boston’s Office of Workforce Development. From the article:

“Boston is a partner-rich city with many programs, organizations, and institutions that are committed to building a cross-sector system that works together to enable students and families to make informed choices. Each year, the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC), which serves as the city’s Workforce Development Board and school-to-career intermediary, organizes employers to provide jobs and internship opportunities for BPS students and recent graduates. As part of the Mayor’s Summer Jobs program, the PIC prepares high school students for internships and matches them based on their skills and interests to work in employer-paid jobs and internships at private sector companies and in subsidized employment with community-based organizations and government. Quality work-based learning experiences such as paid internships provide opportunities for students to gain work experience and build professional and technical skills. They also help students explore career options through exposure to different sectors and occupations.

Read the full article here.

Arts programming in Boston schools linked to attendance, engagement gains

The May 10, 2021 CommonWealth Magazine article by Michael Jonas, “Arts programming in Boston schools linked to attendance, engagement gains”, highlights the recently published The Arts Advantage: Impacts of Arts Education on Boston Students research report affirming the effects of Arts Education and it’s positive impacts on student engagement and student attendance particularly in a challenging year of remote learning. From the article:

“A lot of the things that we measure in social science are proxies for a bundle of other things,” Kisida said. “So to see that attendance goes up doesn’t just tell me there are X number of more hours a student is in school. It tells me there’s an effect on the student’s mindset, they’re more engaged, they’re happier there. There are other things going on that are unmeasured, and whatever attendance is a proxy for is probably a more important thing.”

Those unmeasured things, say the researchers and EdVestors leaders, may be more important than ever as schools take on the challenge of reconnecting with students who may have gone a full year without being in school building or in face-to-face interactions with classmates or teachers.

Read the full article here and learn more about BPS Arts Expansion here.

New research finds evidence arts education increases school engagement, attendance among Boston students

The May 10, 2021 Boston Globe article by John Hilliard, “New research finds evidence arts education increases school engagement, attendance among Boston students ”, highlights recently the published The Arts Advantage: Impacts of Arts Education on Boston Students research report validating the effects of Arts Education and it’s positive impacts on student engagement, parent engagement, and student attendance. From the article:

The report […] looked at about a decade’s worth of data collected from students and teachers to assess the impact of students’ participation in the arts on their school experience.

Boston schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said in a statement that the new research provides evidence supporting “what we already know: arts education engages students, builds community, expresses our shared humanity and experience, and contributes to joyful learning environments.”

Cassellius said that Boston Public Schools will continue to prioritize the arts “as we promote our students’ social and emotional health to fully recover from this pandemic and reimagine learning for our young people.”

Read the full article here and learn more about BPS Arts Expansion here.

New Study Underscores Impacts of Arts Education on Students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  

New Study Finds Boston Public School Students Improved on Several
Key Measures with the Expansion of Arts Education

Extensive research highlights the impacts of arts education on students, parents and schools pointing to the role of arts in an equitable post-pandemic recovery 

(BOSTON) May 10, 2021 EdVestors, a school improvement nonprofit in Boston, today released the results of a longitudinal citywide study entitled “The Arts Advantage: Impacts of Arts Education on Boston Students” that examines the impacts of arts education access in Boston Public Schools (BPS) on students. Increased student engagement, improved attendance, and increased parent engagement are among the findings of this unique longitudinal study, which includes more than 600,000 K-12 student-level observations across every Boston Public School over 11 school years from school year 2008-09 through 2018-19.

In addition, the research is noteworthy as rather than simply comparing students who have arts education opportunities to those who don’t, the study compared students to themselves at different points in time when enrolled in arts courses versus having no arts courses. The study adds to a growing body of research on the significant benefits of arts education.

“This research strengthens the case for quality arts education for every student, finding significant evidence that greater access to arts leads to improvements on a range of indicators of student success and parent engagement,” said Marinell Rousmaniere, President and CEO of EdVestors. “Large scale, quantitative arts education studies of this magnitude are not common, so this research will be invaluable to policymakers and school districts as they make decisions on allocating resources for the arts – both in the long-term and in the immediate aftermath of the interruption of two school years due to the pandemic.”

As students return to the classroom after 14 months of interrupted learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, educators and district administrators are debating how to make up for lost learning time. While some are focused on the academic learning needs, others are focused on social-emotional needs and trauma-informed practices. Arts education can positively impact students’ overall learning in both domains.

“This research provides evidence for what we already know: arts education engages students, builds community, expresses our shared humanity and experience, and contributes to joyful learning environments,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “Building on the strength of the many BPS educators and partners that provide quality arts learning opportunities, Boston Public Schools will continue to prioritize the arts as we promote our students’ social and emotional health to fully recover from this pandemic and reimagine learning for our young people.”


Led by Daniel H. Bowen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the College of Education & Human Development, Texas A&M University and Brian Kisida, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri, the research points to a positive impact on student attitudes, engagement and social emotional well-being.

Key findings include:

  • Consistent positive effects on student attendance as a result of students taking arts courses. These effects are notably stronger for students who have a history of chronic absenteeism and students on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).
  • Parent and student school engagement were higher when more students in a school were enrolled in arts courses. Teachers were more likely to report that students put more effort into their work and parents were more active at the school.
  • Overall, there were mixed effects on test scores, with mostly null and some positive though modest effects. There were significant positive student test score impacts for grades 6-8 in both English Language Arts and Mathematics, but no evidence of impact in the elementary grades.

“Taken together, these findings are highly relevant in understanding the context for how schools can work most effectively with their student population – especially post-pandemic,” said Dr. Bowen of the College of Education & Human Development at Texas A&M University. “As schools reopen, educators, policymakers and administrators need to take a holistic approach to addressing the pandemic’s impact on students. That includes incorporating arts instruction and other means to assess and address the impacts on students’ school engagement and social-emotional well being.”

This research builds on EdVestors long commitment to advancing arts education including the BPS Arts Expansion initiative, which was launched in 2009 and has given access to arts education to more than 17,000 additional elementary, middle, and high school students opportunities to experience the arts during the school day.

“We started our initiative to expand quality arts education across BPS over 12 years ago, which has given us an opportunity to actually measure the gains over time,” added Rousmaniere. “The results of this remarkable research only strengthen the case that all students should have access to quality arts experiences.”


Read the research brief here.


About EdVestors

EdVestors’ mission is to advance equitable, meaningful education that prepares every Boston student to activate their power and shape their future. We drive toward our vision by 1) activating people and resources, 2) learning and iterating in context, and 3) influencing system change. We believe that continuously attending to all three drivers ensures our programs and initiatives will create impact. Since starting in 2002, EdVestors has raised and directed over $35 million for urban school improvement efforts through EdVestors’ Racial Equity Seed Fund, BPS Arts Expansion, the School on the Move Prize, Zeroing in on Math, and Career Pathways. Learn more at www.edvestors.org.

#BpsArts4All                @EdVestors                  edvestors.org


Media contact:

Dominic Slowey



EdVestors Awards 15th Annual $100,000 School on the Move Prize to the F. Lyman Winship Elementary School in Brighton

The Winship is being recognized for rapid improvement in providing a quality education through STEAM-based experiences to meet the needs of a diverse student population reflecting

35 different countries

Charles Sumner Elementary School in Roslindale and the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers in Fenway, each received a $20,000 runner-up prize.

A PDF version is available here.

(BOSTON) October 28, 2020 – EdVestors, a school improvement nonprofit organization, today awarded its $100,000 Thomas W. Payzant School on the Move Prize to the F. Lyman Winship Elementary School in Brighton, a school that provides high quality STEAM-based instruction and intensive student-centered services to one of the most diverse student populations in the city. The Prize, now in its 15th year, recognizes rapidly improving schools that have made exemplary progress in advancing the academic achievement of all students.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has required our teachers and school leaders to think creatively to ensure our students are engaged and learning to their fullest potential,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I want to congratulate the F. Lyman Winship and the finalists for their hard work and dedication to Boston’s students always, but especially throughout the challenges of this pandemic.”

The winner was announced during a virtual event and ceremony this afternoon. Latoyia Edwards, Anchor for NBC 10 Boston / NECN served as emcee for the Prize Ceremony, which featured key business, civic, and education leaders. Fellow finalist schools, Charles Sumner Elementary School in Roslindale and the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers in Fenway, each received a $20,000 award – double the usual runner-up prize thanks to a generous donation. The virtual event was produced by WGBH, live streamed via Zoom, and is available to view at https://wgbh.zoom.us/rec/share/0_M2Mgk9OMOT-fCWoLEuhVPSc3UDK8eYnbAGG4fYbFZhuK2uMWhbwFb9Q5dGm7hT.4XCv6lFShAynNFUr Passcode: eNEdCq4. (Note: include the period in the passcode)

“The three finalist schools represent the critical work schools across the city are doing to improve educational opportunities for Boston’s young people during what continues to be a challenging year for schools, teachers, students and their families,” said Marinell Rousmaniere, President and CEO of EdVestors. “We are excited to shine a spotlight on the Winship as this year’s Prize winner and share the effective strategies they are using to meet the diverse needs of their students. As we look forward, their lessons should light the way for other schools to chart their improvement path.”

With 240 students in K1-5, the Winship is a small elementary school located near Brighton Center. Their student population reflects more than 35 different countries; almost half the students speak a language other than English at home. The school credits their steady improvement over the years to revamping their school pedagogy and an emphasis on student-centered learning. The Winship focuses on providing students with education through STEAM-based experiences.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by this year’s School on the Move Prize, which is a reminder that it is the daily work, the consistent work, the sometimes not glorious work of meeting individual kids’ learning needs and continuing to grow as educators that made this improvement possible,” said Brian Radley, Principal of the F. Lyman Winship Elementary School. “The opportunity to be at the table for rich discussions about innovation, experimentation, and promising practices that are working for kids and families across the district is so exciting to us.”

The School on the Move Prize is based on a rigorous quantitative screen of student achievement using historical and current state standardized assessment data. The Winship showed steady improvement across several key areas including the following:

  • Use of Data – The Winship used student data to implement supports and instructional practices that aim to improve student engagement and achievement.
  • Professional Development – The Winship’s professional development has centered on defining their Instructional Focus and Creating Student-Centered Learning Environments. The school’s professional learning is grounded in culturally responsive teaching.
  • Instructional Practice – As a direct impact of the above two strategies, the Winship moved to school-wide implementation of classroom practices that adopt rigorous, student-centered learning opportunities that are engaging and meet the current and diverse needs in the school community.

“All three schools prove that talented teams of teachers, staff and administrators working together to support students and families – and each other – is a winning combination,” said Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools. “As we navigate this new reality in public education, BPS is fortunate to have such exemplary leadership and collaboration to look to within our own community. Congratulations to the F. Lyman Winship for a well-deserved award. Their hard work and dedication to serving the individual needs of a diverse group of students is a model for all of our schools.”

The Thomas W. Payzant School on the Move Prize is made possible by generous support of lead sponsor – the James M and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation – along with foundation and corporate sponsors including BerryDunn, Eastern Bank, Eaton Vance, Fidelity Investments, Fiduciary Trust, Goldman Sachs, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Larson Family Foundation, Insource Services, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Parker Family Foundation, Plymouth Rock Assurance, Rockland Trust Bank, Simon Brothers Family Foundation, State Street, and William Schawbel & Schawbel Group, among other generous organizations and individuals.


About EdVestors

EdVestors’ mission is to increase the number of public schools in Boston delivering dramatically improved educational outcomes for all students. Our goal is to ensure that every Boston student has access to an equitable, meaningful education that prepares them to activate their power and shape their future. We combine strategic philanthropy, education expertise, and implementation support to help schools improve. EdVestors seeds promising ideas through the School Solutions Seed Fund, shines a spotlight on school improvement through the School on the Move Prize, and scales efforts to close opportunity and achievement gaps through three strategic initiatives: Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion, Zeroing in on Math and our newest effort to expand Career Pathways. Learn more at www.edvestors.org.

#schoolonmove                       @edvestors                 http://www.edvestors.org





Boston Public Schools Arts Educators Creatively Meet the Moment

By Anthony Beatrice and Ruth Mercado-Zizzo

This article is featured on Americans for the Arts’ ArtsBlog as part of National Arts in Education Week

Within a week of Boston Public Schools closing its schools due to COVID-19, the district’s nearly 300 BPS visual and performing arts educators quickly shifted to offering remote learning in the arts. The creativity, responsiveness, and community approach educators brought to this task have ensured the arts remain a priority for our students during the spring and moving forward into the new school year.

Within days of school closures, BPS visual and performing arts educators congregated on our first Zoom meeting to take stock of the moment and build a plan going forward. In a traffic-jammed city where it can take over an hour to get from one neighborhood to another, meeting online quickly turned into a silver lining, creating a new outlet for collaboration and camaraderie. Discussions rapidly led to an action plan focused on pedagogy and approaches that would make arts learning relevant and sharing resources to do so.

The Zoom gatherings became a weekly ritual and generated online professional learning communities on Google Classroom to provide a space for educators to share student work, gain feedback from each other, and have a clear understanding of what technologies to focus on in both teaching and learning. The BPS Visual and Performing Arts Department partnered with the BPS Office of Instructional Technology to offer webinars focused on tools like FlipGrid and Google Classroom along with Final Cut Pro and Garageband for creating virtual ensembles. All of these resources were then placed on a new remote learning website so educators and arts partners could easily access them.

The Arts Department wanted a unified approach to connecting students and arts educators virtually to make learning visible, and so began the #BPSArtsChallenges. We partnered with the BPS Communications Department to highlight a weekly challenge, including choreographing a dance jam to Wavin’ Flag, creating artwork for the Boston healthcare community, and developing messages of hope to our isolated seniors as part of a collaboration with AgeStrong Boston. Student work from the art challenges was combined with arts instructional videos on a new television show featured on the Boston Neighborhood Network.

At the end of the school year, students and educators transformed our Annual Citywide Arts Festival into an online format. Featuring virtual bands and choirs, dance mashups, visual art, and theatre performances, students were highlighted from all areas of the city.

The combination of weekly virtual meetings and professional learning communities, showcases of student work, and practical professional development helped ensure the relevancy and access to our high-quality standards-based curriculum.

As we move into a new school year that will begin remotely for all students with plans to phase-in hybrid options, we are able to utilize best practices from the spring while digging deeper into connecting our pedagogy to the needs of our students and families. Over the summer our arts educators partnered with the district’s Social Emotional Learning and Wellness Department to design arts lessons themed on community building, self-identity, and social justice connected to the social-emotional learning competencies and the new Massachusetts Core Arts Standards. Our first project will be creating a district-wide virtual mosaic filled with student artwork and QR codes to dance, music, and theatrical performances. We will continue to partner with the community in monthly district-wide arts challenges. Though field trips might be on hold this year, we are collaborating with our cultural partners in Boston to engage our students in virtual concerts and museum tours. We will carry on highlighting student visual and performing arts presentations in unique formats through livestreams and our local public access television network.

This work illustrates the power of engaging in the arts remotely and why we must continue to support arts education as a vehicle to amplify the voice and agency of our students in the years ahead. As we navigate through these trying times, partners and stakeholders of BPS Arts Expansion, led by the BPS Visual and Performing Arts Department and EdVestors, will continue to meet virtually to discuss challenges and share best practices for remote arts learning. The broad network of partners and advocates—including Boston Public Schools and Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius, school leaders and teachers, local and national foundations and arts organizations, higher education institutions, and the Mayor’s Office—are committed to working together to ensure our students have ongoing, regular access to equitable, quality arts education.


Anthony Beatrice is the Executive Director for the Arts at Boston Public Schools. Ruth Mercado-Zizzo is the Senior Director of Arts and Equity at EdVestors.

This is the Wrong Time to Cut Arts Education

By Dr. Brenda Cassellius and Marinell Rousmaniere

This article is featured on CommonWealth Magazine.

Schools should not be focused just on tested subjects

In times of great financial strain and uncertainty, arts education is often first thing cut from the school curriculum. Indeed, several school districts across the Commonwealth have already laid off teachers and arts educators in the face of expected budget cuts and an unpredictable fall. Some districts may be anticipating a stricter focus on tested subjects when schools reopen to get students up to speed, but this is exactly the wrong time to be cutting arts programs.

With an ongoing global pandemic and heightened attention on racial injustice, students need arts education more than ever. The arts help students creatively engage with their classmates and communities,  help combat isolation, and allow students to process their feelings and express themselves in ways that help them make sense of what’s happening in the world.

Arts education promotes positive development across the academic, social and emotional realms. It is an essential part of a well-rounded education, not just enrichment or elective. Students involved in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement. Students who are highly engaged in the arts are twice as likely to graduate college as their peers with no arts education. And yet, despite the impressive benefits of arts education, not every student has access to these quality learning experiences.

When schools closed in March, Boston Public School (BPS) students were able to continue their arts education for the remainder of the school year. Arts educators, led by BPS Executive Director for the Arts Anthony Beatrice, utilized their inherent creativity to demonstrate the arts ability to unite and heal. Students from dozens of BPS schools contributed works of art to share with frontline workers in the Boston hospital community, as well as senior citizens in the City’s Age Strong Commission. BPS school communities moved their art galleries to virtual spaces, or reworked their planned stage productions into rousing online events.

In addition, arts teachers across the district began taking part in online professional learning communities to share best practices and participate in weekly virtual meetings with the district’s arts department. They received professional development in building virtual ensembles, differentiating instruction, and on online tools such as FlipGrid, Google Classroom, and Soundtrap. Over the years, the district has built up this strong support system and community of arts teachers due to BPS Arts Expansion, This public-private partnership involves a large and coordinated network of partners, including schools, arts organizations, local and national foundations, colleges and universities, and the Mayor’s office, among others. The capacity building of BPS to support quality arts education gave them the infrastructure and resources to quickly implement remote learning and could serve as a model for other school districts nationwide.

Arts education can be done — and done well — with some collaboration and innovation among educators. In BPS, the arts department created a new Virtual Learning section on their website where they post many examples of what has been accomplished remotely. For example, students were able to express themselves in lessons ranging from comic book making and music composition to shadow puppetry and pandemic-themed tissue paper art.

During this time, districts and schools should be moving mountains to expand access to quality arts education instead of focusing — myopically — on tested subjects. Before students can get out from behind their screens and go back to an actual classroom, schools will need to ramp up and adapt the way they support their students’ social-emotional needs. Arts education is a powerful and effective tool in helping students process complex emotions in this challenging time. Creative expression in a safe environment, be it on or offline, can have healing effects for all.

COVID-19 forced schools to rapidly change the basic way they educate students and may change the shape of our classrooms for years to come. Moving forward, arts education will continue to be crucial in helping students connect with each other, express themselves, process the world around them, and stay engaged in learning.

Dr. Brenda Cassellius is the Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. Marinell Rousmaniere is President and CEO of Edvestors, a nonprofit school improvement organization in Boston.


Bloomberg Philanthropies and EdVestors Arts Internship Program for Boston High School Students Goes Virtual This Summer

Collaboration supports paid internships for 25 Boston public high school students at local arts and cultural organizations

 (BOSTON) July 30, 2020EdVestors, a school improvement nonprofit in Boston, and Bloomberg Philanthropies are conducting their summer arts internship program in a remote format to continue offering opportunities for Boston high school students who want to explore careers in the arts and culture sector, and develop relevant skills, gain professional experience, and prepare for college.

Through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Arts Internship (BAI) program, 25 high school students have paid virtual internships with 12 local arts and cultural organizations this summer. Boston became the latest city to join the BAI program in 2019. The program originated in New York City in 2012, then expanded to Philadelphia in 2015 and Baltimore in 2017. In total, more than 830 students have benefited from the program.

“COVID-19 has interrupted too many educational opportunities this spring and summer for Boston students, and we did not want to add these quality work-based learning experiences to that long list,” said Marinell Rousmaniere, CEO of EdVestors. “Despite being one of the hardest hit sectors, Boston’s arts organizations have stepped up to provide remote internship opportunities that are meaningful and engaging for Boston youth. Now in its second year in Boston, this year’s BAI program is spotlighting the creativity and perseverance of both the City’s arts sector and its young people.

Boston arts organizations providing virtual job opportunities include: Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Boston Lyric Opera, Community Music Center of Boston, Handel and Haydn Society, Huntington Theatre Company, Hyde Square Task Force, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA), MASSCreative, North End Music & Performing Arts Center, Sociedad Latina, Urbanity Dance, and The Urbano Project.

“Arts and cultural organizations have the power to enrich and transform cities, and also unlock the full potential of young people living in them,” said Patricia E. Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The goal of the Bloomberg Arts Initiative is to open doors for students by providing opportunities to get the first-hand experience they need to develop skills, build relationships, and put themselves on a path to success, whether that is in the arts community or elsewhere. Thanks to our partnership with EdVestors, and arts and cultural organizations throughout the city of Boston, these virtual internships will ensure those doors remain open for 25 highly qualified students, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The BAI program exposes high school students to the wide variety of career opportunities that exist in the creative sector and connects arts organizations with passionate young people who may one day pursue a career in the field. Interns will develop essential skills necessary for transitioning to postsecondary and career opportunities through executive coaching, writing support, networking with arts professionals, and specific worksite responsibilities. The summer internships will include an array of timely projects from supporting virtual dance classes to creating visual communications and social media content to developing a virtual/audio public art tour.

EdVestors connected to its network of community art partners and cultural institutions, as well as the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, to identify meaningful worksite experiences for BAI Boston interns and worked closely with selected arts partners on how they could be transitioned to virtual experiences. The Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) serves as a key partner, helping to recruit and prepare interns as well as support supervisors.

The BAI program in Boston builds on the success EdVestors has seen through its Boston Public Schools (BPS) Arts Expansion initiative, which has resulted in nearly 17,000 additional students receiving arts instruction during the school day. BPS arts educators working in partnership with community-based teaching artists and organizations have made this work possible. The initiative continues to focus on expanding access to equitable arts education and deepening arts experiences, while building systems to sustain a high level of arts education long into the future.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in more than 570 cities and over 160 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $3.3 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTubeTwitter, and TikTok.

About EdVestors

EdVestors’ mission is to increase the number of schools in Boston delivering dramatically improved educational outcomes for all students. EdVestors is a school improvement organization that combines strategic philanthropy, education expertise, and implementation support to help schools create the conditions for school change. EdVestors seeds promising ideas through the School Solutions Seed Fund, shines a spotlight on school improvement through the School on the Move Prize, and scales efforts to close opportunity and achievement gaps through three strategic initiatives: Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion, Zeroing in on Math and our newest effort to expand Career Pathways. Learn more at www.edvestors.org.

To Create a Better Education System, Teachers Must Become Learners

By Kayla Morse Higgs

This article is featured on Education Post.

As we all anxiously await a return to normal, the worst thing that could happen for schools is just that—return to normal. If we do not emerge from the situation COVID-19 has placed us in with lessons learned in how to think, teach and learn differently, we have failed.

This is a vulnerable time for anyone, especially for those who are struggling to adjust the way they do a job that has always been understood as a face-to-face interaction. One of the realities of being forced into a remote environment is that we all have a learning curve—nearly every educator has had to become a learner again. It is also a powerful opportunity to learn and unlearn who gets to provide knowledge and who gets to gain knowledge.

The structure of our traditional classrooms heavily relies on the teacher as the giver of knowledge and our students as the recipients. A virtual environment quickly taught us the difficulty of replicating that structure. There is not the same level of engagement, and students have an element of choice. Where the teacher becomes the learner is whether or not we are paying attention to the choices our students are making, and why.

For example, we had a middle school math teacher share that one of their students had not been completing any of the skills practice assignments, but maxing out the time on a puzzle-based math program that is aligned with the skills practice. Could it be that the puzzles created a novel learning process that motivated the student? Was the puzzle program more accessible?

One of the realities of being forced into a remote environment is that we all have a learning curve—nearly every educator has had to become a learner again.

Educators must be asking themselves these questions as they see the choices their students are making when it comes to completing assignments in a remote learning environment. Our students’ choices tell us something: Whether or not they watch an instruction video, complete practice problems, or log-in to small group lessons—or, whether they are choosing project-based learning or open-ended tasks. Thinking about ourselves as not just teachers, but also learners, allows us to wonder about what students know and want to know, how they are making sense of things and what motivates and engages them. Who are our students now as readers, mathematicians, scientists, theorists or historians? This is an opportunity to look deeper than just whether or not students are completing assignments, but rather to look and discuss the why behind their choices.

The virtual environment has offered us time and space to have 1:1 meaningful, affirming, and inquisitive conferences with students about what they are thinking. Physical proximity pre-COVID-19 did not guarantee these interactions were happening. Often our pursuit of content mastery took priority and diminished these opportunities to judgment, adjustment and intervention. We now have until the beginning of the next school year to enhance our own inquiry skills as teacher-learners—our listening, observation, and study skills that push us to interrogate, communicate and provide forward-moving feedback as a means to learning. In a virtual setting, where we are spending less face time with students, we are providing them more opportunities to showcase and guide their own learning. This structure gifts us time and space to communicate with students and families in a more intimate and personalized way to drive ownership of learning.

Blended Learning Can Shift Our Practice

Over the past five years, the Zeroing in on Math Initiative, a partnership between nonprofit school improvement organization EdVestors and the Boston Public Schools, has exemplified how blended learning can shift our practice, perspective and approach to learning using technology. One major lesson this initiative has taught us is the importance of teacher facilitation of learning with a digital interface. To apply that to the current situation, it is important we remember that online learning does not replace the teacher; but rather, it is a tool that gives students the space to exercise choice in a personalized learning path and teachers the opportunity to focus on facilitating this learning environment.

Online learning is not about task completion—it should free up the teacher to observe what students can do when they are given independence. We now have the space to make curious inquiry of student thinking, ask clarifying and probing questions of our learners and give thoughtful forward-moving feedback to students. This is an opportunity to relearn and lay a path for a new way of educating that is affirming, responsive and growth-focused for all.

The world has changed, and our schools must change, too. In this new era, we must engage students to think deeply, and position teachers as learners of students’ strengths, assets, needs and growth areas. Measuring engagement by accuracy and completion makes us information processors and taskmasters, not learners. Let us use this time to be, and do, different.

Our classrooms must shift to encompass this dual path of learning and re-invention. We must create more experiences where educators are the learners, too, just as much as the students. Learning drives teaching, not the other way around.

Online learning is not about task completion—it should free up the teacher to observe what students can do when they are given independence.

If we as educators commit ourselves to learning the motivations and strengths of students, we will be better equipped to teach them at their point of understanding. This idea is not novel, but often underutilized as a learning and teaching tool for educators. We must adjust our affinity for a banking model of education to a more communicative and inventive medium for inquiry for both students and teachers. That is where knowledge and progress is found.


Kayla Morse Higgs is the Manager of Teaching and Learning of Zeroing in on Math.