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Initiatives / School on the Move Prize / 2021 Winner and Finalists

2021 Winner and Finalists

Winner: James Otis Elementary School

Neighborhood: East Boston
Grade Levels: K1-6
Number of students: 410
Principal: Paula Cerqueira-Goncalves, since 2010

Located in East Boston, the James Otis Elementary School with a population of 410 students has a 3-strand classroom model including General Education, Inclusion, and Sheltered Immersion classrooms. Nearly three quarters of the student population has a first language other than English. Reflective of the student diversity, Otis teachers are also multilingual.

Primary School Improvement Strategies:

  • Strong Leadership and Collaboration: Strong leadership at the school has helped to develop a family community at the Otis. All staff work together to ensure the success of each student, and families are welcomed into classrooms to observe student learning.
  • Partnerships: The Otis has leveraged partnerships with local universities and community organizations to provide teacher professional development, increase student engagement in STEM, and provide material aid during the pandemic.
  • Meeting the Needs of Students: The Otis’ commitment to helping all students reach their full potential includes providing wraparound services to families and providing professional development focused on race and critical consciousness to teachers, enabling students to see themselves in their learning.
Finalist: New Mission High School

Neighborhood: Hyde Park
Grade Levels: 7-12
Number of students: 470
Head of School: Will Thomas, since 2020

Located in Hyde Park, New Mission is a smaller Boston Public high school with a population of 470 students, serving a majority Black and Latinx student population. In 2018 New Mission expanded to include grades 7 and 8 and will continue to expand seats in those grades through the next few years.

Primary School Improvement Strategies:

  • Academic Rigor & Support: High expectations throughout the school ensure that students are prepared post-graduation. This can be seen in their “AP-for-all” philosophy and in their career and college pathways and personalized student supports.
  • Relationship Building: New Mission builds relationships with students daily through academic advising, project-based learning, and adult-student relationships focused on social-emotional wellness. This structure provided students with the supports they needed during the pandemic while keeping an emphasis on learning.
  • Professional Development & Leadership: New Mission uses a theory of action in which all staff take on leadership roles. Monthly professional development and ongoing 1:1 coaching allow staff to grow their skills.
Finalist: Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary School

Neighborhood: East Boston
Grade Levels: K1-6
Number of students: 280
Principal: Kristen Goncalves, since 2016

The Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary School in East Boston with a population of 282 students has historically had one of the highest percentages of English Language Learners (ELL) in Boston, serving a high number of immigrant families and welcoming newcomers throughout the year. The PJ Kennedy was named a “Family Friendly” school by the BPS Office of Engagement.

Primary School Improvement Strategies:

  • Family Engagement: During the pandemic the PJ Kennedy focused on strengthening their foundation of family engagement. Extending beyond just academics, all staff committed to connecting with a group of families consistently to support family wellness and provide a tiered level of support as needed.
  • Tools for Success: The school created and outsourced resources to support families, students, and staff during the pandemic. These included technology support videos in English and Spanish and physical learning materials distributed to students monthly.
  • Collaborative Professional Development: Building on collaborative work done over the past five years, the school created a responsive and robust professional development plan to respond to the pandemic that included working closely with fellow East Boston schools.
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