Staff Spotlight - Brooks Elemetary School

Staff Spotlight - Brooks Elementary School
Moving a school from Level 3 status to the state’s top ranking of Level 1 is no easy feat for staff or students, and it doesn’t happen overnight. 

It can, however, happen in a year – with the right focus, determination and hard work by an entire team.
 
Elizabeth Carter Brooks Elementary School moved into Level 1 this fall – a huge accomplishment for a school that just two years before had been in the fifth percentile and was named to a federal watch list of underperforming schools, moving this year to the 31st percentile. Last year, Casimir Pulaski Elementary School pulled off the same 3 to 1 move, retaining their Level 1 status this year and moving up in percentile rankings.
 
Commending the entire staff, Principal Maria Reidy, who is entering her second year as Brooks’ principal, said that the improvement can be chalked up to teamwork by students and staff members.
 
“It’s about every student doing his best or her best, and being sure that all of our staff have the supports they need to be effective every day,” said Ms. Reidy.
 
Several Brooks educators recently took the time to discuss the school’s growth, and the group agreed on a few common themes that moved the school in the last year.
 
New, comprehensive reading and math programs – Reading Street and Envisions, respectively – and the supports that came with them were able to help teachers weave lessons together in a more seamless and coherent way, said teacher Kim Calheta. This was also a major boost to work with Teaching and Learning Specialists both last year and this year, she said.
 
Teacher Megan Giammalvo said that techniques such as daily exit tickets were helpful in assessing students’ progress and being able to adjust and readjust focus for learners at all levels.
 
Both Ms. Calheta and Ms. Giammalvo, along with colleagues Christine Andrade, Christopher Kiselica, Lisa Laviminiere and James Darling, agreed on another helpful practice that has just started this year but already has shown results – common planning time. That time together is useful for grade-level teams to compare strategies that are and aren’t working, and moving towards constant progress, said Mr. Kiselica.

Ms. Andrade and Ms. Laviminiere said listening was important – not only working with students and understanding where their individual learning was on a given day, but also with staff and each other. Specifically, they noted that as principal, Ms. Reidy has an open door policy and works to support the needs of all students and staff.
 
Superintendent Pia Durkin said that Brooks was an example of achievement that shows teamwork at a school can produce great results.
 
“The educators at Brooks worked very hard – and while there were not many staff or student changes looking at the school from year to year, there was a continued focus by the staff on each student’s progress individually, and that work truly paid off for Brooks.”
 
Principal Reidy said that the determination of Brooks staff has only grown since their move to Level 1 – and she is looking forward to more progress for all kids throughout the school year.