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Archive for the ‘Massachusetts Cities and Towns’ Category

A Montessori student and Janet Begin

 

“Leading the Way,” is a series featuring the next generation of leaders in the field of early education and care.

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Janet Begin was a computer engineer for ten years. She worked at AT&T Bell Labs.

“I always knew I wanted to go into education,” Begin, a Haverhill resident, says. “But I knew I liked computers, and I was good at that, so I started there because it was more profitable than education. That’s the sad reality.”

Eventually her company offered a buyout — and tuition benefits. Begin took both and went back to school. She earned a master’s degree in education from Lesley University. She became a substitute teacher in Haverhill where she lived. And she started looking for a preschool program for her daughter.

“In my search, I found a Montessori school, and basically it changed my world,” Begin said. (more…)

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Amanda Medeiros

My name is Amanda Medeiros, and I work at the Lowell Collaborative Preschool Academy.

I have worked in the field of early education and care for eight years, and I love what I do. I help children learn to express their feelings and learn that it is okay to feel different emotions. I help them grow and become independent. I always support families as well. I am here for the parents just as much as I am for children. It can be hard when parents see their children growing, so I help them adjust and understand that it is all normal.

What I’m most proud of as an early educator is seeing children make progress. I love when I hear a child express themselves, especially when I know that is difficult for them. I see children go from not being able to hold a crayon to writing their name in full. It is very rewarding. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Massachusetts is working hard to meet the needs of preschool age children who have special education needs. The goal is inclusion: preparing all children for success in school no matter what challenges or disabilities they have. Ongoing efforts in this area and an upcoming conference are fueling real progress for children.

For parents, trying to find the right services and programs for children with special needs can be daunting. Some help came in 2015, when the federal government issued guidelines about how high-quality programs can be more inclusive.

“States, school districts, local organizations, communities and families must work together so that children with disabilities have access to programs that offer individualized and appropriate help in meeting high expectations,” former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said at the time. (more…)

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Efrain Ponce

This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Efrain Ponce and I work at the Lowell Collaborative Preschool Academy. I have been in the field of early education for 10 years.

The job that I do is important because we are teaching the foundations of education. Not only are we teaching academics, but we also teach children how to be respectful, good citizens. We help parents by coaching them on what advocating for their child means and how to do it. Personally, I want to make sure that when children and their families leave my classroom, they are prepared for the public school system and know what resources are available to them.

One of my proudest moments was working with a child who was in my care a few years back. He was 4 years old when he came into the program, and I worked with him and his mom for the next year. By the end of the program when it was time for him to graduate, mom thanked me for being a strong male role model for him because he didn’t have one. The child even came back for two more years for after-school care and only wanted to come into my room. This experience made me realize how much of an impact an educator can have on children and their families. (more…)

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This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Lesley Byrne, and I work as a pre-K teacher in the Lowell Public Schools. I had worked in early childhood education for seven years when, in 1993, the Lowell initiated the first pre-K programs in its schools. I knew this was where I wanted to be, as I have always believed that providing a positive, first-school experience for families can lead to future school success. I was excited to work toward offering these experiences for children and families. 

For a few years, I was involved in The Family Literacy Program, a collaboration between the Lowell Adult Education program and the Early Childhood Education program. Imagine you’re a parent who is new to this country. You don’t understand English or American culture. Now imagine sending your child to a “foreign” school! The Family Literacy Program aimed to support these families. The program offered classes in English as a Second Language to parents of pre-K children. As one of the pre-K teachers at this time, I got to use my skills not only to educate and support the children in my class, but also to work with parents on how to support their child’s learning at home. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my teaching career.  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

This year’s MCAS test results have been released.

And while this assessment of Massachusetts students is 25 years old, this year’s results are part of a “new generation” of testing that’s designed “to measure how a school or district is doing and what kind of support it may need,” according to a press release from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

The next-generation MCAS “is more comprehensive than the previous system and complies with the 2015 federal Every Student Succeeds Act.” This is the second year that the new MCAS has been administered, so this year’s results can only be compared to last year’s – and not to earlier years.

Students’ test scores are sorted into one of four assessment categories:

• exceeding expectations

• meeting expectations

• partially meeting expectations, and

• not meeting expectations

The year’s results are similar to last year’s, the press release notes. In English and math, “approximately 50 percent of the students who took the test scored Meeting Expectations or above.” (more…)

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Members of the Massachusetts Education Equity Partnership. Source: Education Trust’s Twitter page.

 

Massachusetts is a great place to get a K-12 education — but not for everyone.

Many students in this state do extremely well on a national standardized test called the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP. A May 2018 report from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) says:

• “Massachusetts tied for first place on the grades 4 and 8 NAEP reading assessments,” and

• “On the NAEP mathematics assessments, Massachusetts tied for first with five other states at grade 4 and one other state on grade 8.”

But not every student does this well. Massachusetts is also home to “glaring and persistent disparities in opportunity and achievement that separate low-income students and students of color from their peers.”

That’s the finding of a new report called, “#1 for Some: Opportunity and Achievement in Massachusetts,” that has been released by the Massachusetts Education Equity Partnership, a growing coalition of nonprofit organizations. Strategies for Children is one of 15 current members. (more…)

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