CATEGORY: Teachers and Leaders

Achievement First Sep 26, 2017

  As we continue to reflect on our results from last year, we’re seeing glowing highlights across our network. This month, we’re shining the spotlight on just a few of these bright spots. So far, we’ve stopped by Brooklyn and Hartford, and now we’re made our way to Bridgeport. On this spring's SBAC, AF Bridgeport Academy Elementary scholars not only beat the state average across ALL subjects, they also outperformed districts like Darien, Greenwich and Fairfield. These results tell an exciting story of determination, but there’s more to it than just numbers. To bring you the stories of the teachers and students working hard to achieve these results, we sat down with the school’s principal, Christina Ellington. Where were you when you learned about your state test results? Who was the first person you called or texted? At the time, I was traveling and knew it was coming. I had to pull over on I-95 to get in touch with my leadership team. My deans and I were screaming on the phone with each other, and I was trying to get back to Bridgeport to tell our third and fourth grade teachers. When I knew I wasn’t going to make it in time, my deans, Heather and Laura, put me on speaker phone. They put the final averages on post-its and handed them to the teachers folded up. Then there was the reveal.  All I heard was screaming and crying on the phone. OUT OF CONTROL! It was a moment of bliss with our team! Can you share a story that speaks to the level of commitment a specific student had in preparing for the test? Sam. One of our wonderful veteran teachers, Sheila Altieri, taught him back when he was in kindergarten. He would sprinkle his snack crumbs around the classroom, and then critter crawl around the room to collect them…during the lesson.  But with time, love and hard work, Sam had amazing success this year, scoring advanced on the SBAC. There are MANY more stories like this. What about a teacher who just stuck it out and demonstrated ambitious persistence? There is no one teacher. Our TEAM crushed this work last year. We had K-2 and enrichment teachers and social workers tutoring. Our deans were teaching small groups. Our social studies teachers were doing listening and speaking practice. Our science teachers were reinforcing math habits and practice. Yes, Terri, Amanda, Shanice and Lauren spearheaded the efforts, but the work of our total team was incredible. Everyone is a teacher for our babies. The one thing I would say that is incredibly special about Terri, Amanda, Shanice and Lauren’s work is how crazy they are about student work. Scholars never leave class without their best work. If you were going to pick a song that symbolizes how you feel about your team, what would it be? Try by Colbie Caillat. Of course, our scholars and staff try VERY hard, but this song is about liking yourself, too. Our scholars and community have had a narrative created for them because they live in Bridgeport. And for many of them, being Black and Latino in Bridgeport makes it that much harder. We want our scholars to walk with pride, feel good about who they are and know that they can wake up in the morning and be just as good as the scholar waking up in Westport, Darien, Ridgefield and Greenwich.

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