By Tina Jenkins Bell
BAPA School Liaison
Six principals representing elementary schools across the Beverly/Morgan Park community recently forged an alliance to share resources, schedules, and ideas to assure equitable, quality educations for students, no matter their school.
“We heard from parents via surveys and emails. Their chief concerns were that they wanted to help their students but didn’t know the platforms or technology. We began to talk with each other about the best ways to support our students, parents, and teachers,” Vanderpoel Humanities Academy Principal Kia Banks said. “Instead of repeating last spring’s situation of rushing to come up with remote learning solutions as schools closed due to the quarantine, we wanted to begin the school year with answers, guidance, and support.”
Banks is one of the participating principals collaborating in the leadership pod; other principals include Kathleen Valente, Barnard; JaMonica Marion, Clissold; Dr. Angela Tucker, Esmond; Dr. Cory Overstreet, Kellogg; and Margaret Burns, Sutherland.
The entire team credited Clissold Principal Marion for sparking their alliance after discussing her efforts to create training to assist parents in keeping their students on track, an effort she began earlier this summer.
To pave the way for accountability and student excellence, one of the initiatives to emerge from this proactive “think tank” is a series of well-designed and presented parent-focused technology training and guides. Last August, the first line of workshops covered Google and Aspen training, a centralized platform for hosting and managing student data, such as class schedules, school events, student performance, athletic eligibility, and individual health records. Workshops were offered at multiple times and divided by PreKindergarten through 4th and 5th through 8th grades.
The workshops were recorded for easy retrieval and reference and can be accessed at (link).
“With patience and grace, we want to support our parents by showing them proven, best practices they can use to facilitate their children’s progress,” Dr. Tucker said.
The principal pod’s overall focus is strong, positive and progressive student performance. Accordingly, their collaborations exceed their leadership concerns and needs to also include support, trainings, and guidance for teachers and staff.
“We’re sharing all kinds of resources with the common goal of student success,” Dr. Overstreet said. “We heard about Sutherland’s use of an equity consultant to guide staff and teaching personnel in diversity and inclusivity. Now, we’re working with the same consultant to work with us at Kellogg. We’re all connected here, working together and bringing our teachers, like our IB instructors, to collaborate across schools.”
The team also work with other groups that support similar priorities. Collectively, they promoted the Remote Learning Symposium Developed by mothers and educators comprising the Beverly Area Mom’s Facebook group. Presented from July through the beginning of September, the symposium consisted of a series of workshops covering a variety of topics, including getting ready for remote learning, understanding new math, reading, balancing parental instructional obligations with self-care, and motivating youth to learn and other subjects. To access these presentations, materials, and additional resources, visit https://sites.google.com/view/getreadybeverly/home
“We are not operating in a vortex. Instead, we’re sharing our ideas while also utilizing strengths and resources in the community,” Burns said.
Foreseeing challenges and understanding the stakes, these principals are developing support networks, workshops, and resources within and beyond CPS — all to ensure their students have every opportunity to soar — whether learning remotely or in the classroom. They are also committed to giving school parents and guardians every chance to support them.
Each of the principals agreed there is no competition between the schools. They said, any parent looking for a school will receive a high quality, equitable education at any one of the six schools.