Letter: In spite of chaos, students and teachers are making real progress

Posted 10/28/21

It’s easy to miss the good news about the Bristol Warren schools these days. The constant turmoil from our school committee leadership is in the headlines again, giving our district another …

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Letter: In spite of chaos, students and teachers are making real progress

Posted

It’s easy to miss the good news about the Bristol Warren schools these days. The constant turmoil from our school committee leadership is in the headlines again, giving our district another black eye. But the good news is there.

Just this past week, US News released rankings of the top K-12 schools in the state. Out of 180 elementary schools in the state, all four local schools were in the top half, with Rockwell Elementary first overall. Kickemuit Middle School, which just a few years ago was in the news for all the wrong reasons, came in number 11 out of 66 middle schools.

Rankings aren’t everything and there have been many great stories on local and state media about the innovative projects and achievements of our students. Our athletics teams are competing for championships, and we have also had our teachers and administrators recognized. For example, Dr. Deb DiBiase from Mt. Hope High School was named the state’s top principal just last April.

If you are a parent, you have also seen first hand the amazing efforts of our teachers and administrators who have worked tirelessly to limit learning loss and support the social-emotional health of our students during a pandemic.

That’s why it was so disappointing to see the school committee leadership turn down $7,000 in funding from a local business for a project that everyone supported. This program would train our teachers to deliver project based learning programs that help prepare students for the future workforce. Project-based learning is well established and has been proven to improve academic performance and engagement of students. 

Why did the school committee leadership turn down this free project that everyone wanted? Committee member Sheila Ellsworth gave a single reason for her objection: The expert consultant providing the professional development said in her bio that she has supported excellence among Black and Brown students in other projects. It's not clear why this is a good reason to deny an amazing opportunity that would serve ALL Bristol Warren students and not cost the district a dime.

We are so impressed with our students who have continued to learn and grow during this incredibly challenging time. We are so grateful to their teachers who have stuck with them. We are blown away by the great progress they have made together despite the constant obstacles that school committee leadership puts in their way. Imagine what they could achieve with a school committee that is actually supporting them?

Melissa Donahue, Bristol

Rachel Grande, Warren

Rob Hancock, Bristol

Joel Huval, Bristol

Tamara Kaplan, Warren

Joanne Kersh, Warren

Jennifer Reynolds Lial, Warren

Jennifer Rainone, Warren

Katie Silva, Warren

2022 by East Bay Newspapers

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.