In preparation for our enrollment season, I interviewed three current parents about their decision to send their scholars to Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP) Mayoral Academy. A clip of our conversation is included below for your enjoyment.
“Close to home” assets like BVP families, as well as readily accessible sources of information like the Rhode Island Department of Education and the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools are great resources for those who are exploring the option of sending their children to a charter school. Maria, Estrella and Ana, the three parents featured in the above video, took a leap of faith by sending their children to BVP in its founding year, when the elementary school’s enrollment was the size of only 76 scholars. Their words about BVP today are that much more powerful and meaningful to prospective families than if they were to come from anyone else.
Similarly, when it comes to recruiting high quality talent for the team at BVP, the staff perspective is just as important. Hearing parents talk about the way our schools have changed their scholars’ lives allowed me to reflect on my own first impressions of BVP upon joining the Network Support Team as the External Affairs Associate just this past August.
These are only a few of my observations:
1. BVP, as an organization, holds high expectations for everyone who has a role in scholars’ lives. We’re talking not just scholars themselves, but families, teachers, parents, the community, etc. etc. Families sign a compact in the first week of school that outlines to what they will be held accountable and why. BVP has responsibility codes in writing for teachers, staff, scholars AND families. This is not about control; it’s about valuing each of these “players” as a VITAL component of the overall influence on a child’s education. Parents and families speak on panels at teacher professional development in the summer, even before the first day of school, to give helpful hints about how teachers can experience success with their children.
2. There are no barriers between the classroom and home. Teachers conduct home visits to each of their scholars’ houses within the first month, if not the first week of school. We (scholars, teachers, staff, families) spend an inordinate amount of time together during the normal school day (7:30 or earlier to 4:30 and later) and at field trips or other events. Although this poses its own series of challenges (see Jeremy’s post, The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good), it’s clear that BVP is serious about its scholars and their success.
3. The PRIDE values of Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Discipline, and Enthusiasm are discussed on day one for new hires. Anyone who has ever experienced a top-down management mentality can appreciate a values-based approach to leadership. Instead of focusing on the “don’ts”– don’t call out sick and not send a lesson plan, don’t yell at a scholar– actions and processes are framed by each of the core values. Are you showing integrity? Are you modeling enthusiasm and respect? Nobody’s perfect and there is always room for improvement, but this healthy mindset is the foundation of any positive results-oriented culture. Every teacher I have met at BVP exudes discipline and perseverance, and we only hire the best of the best– the teachers who are willing to take initiative, take ownership, and immerse themselves in the work without a second thought. Yes, the work is hard. On the flip side, teachers and staff receive salaries commensurate with the results they work hard to achieve and benefits that are competitive with surrounding districts.
But don’t take it from just me. Talk to our teachers. Talk to our staff. Start the discussion by coming to our talent recruitment event on November 28th. Click here to RSVP, and we’ll see you there!