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Research & Insights / At Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary, Everyone Is On Your Team

At Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary, Everyone Is On Your Team

This year, EdVestors held an open call for the School on the Move Prize, seeking the stories of Boston Public Schools that are creating and continuously improving learning environments where all students thrive. Eight semifinalists have been selected to advance to the next round, and three finalists will be celebrated at the School on the Move Prize Ceremony on November 8. Regardless of the outcome, each semifinalist has a story that we can learn from.

East Boston boasts a constant stream of new arrivals, many of them Spanish-speaking families from Central and South America. Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary School (PJK) is there to welcome them. 

Reflecting the neighborhood, the school has one of the highest percentages of multilingual learners in the city—90% of students speak a first language other than English. The traditional method of educating these students, Sheltered English Immersion, isolates students beginning to learn English from their peers in a separate classroom. At PJK, all students learn in the same classroom with two co-teachers, a homeroom teacher, and an ESL expert. In the first pilot year of this model, students made 3 years of English development progress in a single year of integrated study.

For elementary school teachers, professional development in math is often lacking. PJK invested in a partnership with Lesley University to provide teachers with intensive coaching in math instruction. Educators responded favorably: this year, 83% said the school had been supportive of their growth as a teacher, up 14 points from the previous year and a stark contrast to Boston’s average of 57%. Student growth and achievement scores on the MAP math assessment have gone up as well.

Teamwork extends beyond the classroom walls. Educators partner with families on Academic Parent-Teacher Teams to set goals for students. Thanks to the hard work of everyone in the community, Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary is a school on the move.