By Rebecca Russell, Dean of Academics at Elementary School 1
What are academics like at Blackstone Valley Prep?
That’s usually the first question I get when I’m discussing our school. Rigor, differentiated instruction, and Common Core are all attractive words that educators use, and are part of what we do, but they often fall short of nothing more than impressive rhetoric. But what excites me the most about the academic program at Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP), or more importantly, what I am most proud of, is less about those words and more about our relentless commitment to establishing an excellent educational foundation for all of our scholars, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, disability, or any other difference. Every. Single. One.
As a Dean of Academics, I have had the opportunity to be part of the development of our curriculum from the beginning. Through the collaborative efforts of BVP educators, colleagues in other districts, and education experts, we have created a comprehensive and challenging curriculum that is rigorous, full of beautiful books, hands-on science inquiry, robust math instruction, and investigations into worlds near and far. But our curriculum is still ever changing. Through continuous practice, reflection, and feedback, we are committed to providing an educational experience that will prepare our scholars for the best and most respected colleges.
As we take a closer look at our curriculum, let me debunk a common misconception that charter schools don’t serve students who have significant learning challenges or require special education support. Our mission and commitment is to ensure that ALL scholars are on the path to college! We take a very differentiated approach to the work. We don’t force scholars to fit a certain archetype, instead, our teachers, through a collaborative process, tailor instruction to meet the needs of each individual scholar. We offer full comprehensive special education services, adhere to research-based Response to Intervention practices, and relentlessly analyze data to drive our instructional decision making. Overall, we are committed to creating learning environments that integrate different instructional modalities specific to the learner’s needs.
How does all this happen? The single most important aspect of our successful academic program is our teachers. Our teachers take our academic vision, interpret the curriculum, develop a deep understanding of their scholars as learners and people, and design individualized learning plans. Our commitment to our teacher development supports this process through targeted professional development, regular coaching opportunities, and collaborative team planning. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of Blackstone Valley Prep’s team, and I am hopeful that my son will have the same educational opportunity that we provide for our scholars.
For more on what makes our academic program special, I invite you to watch the video below.