All students deserve an adequate education designed to deliver on the promise to prepare and equip them to choose to be socially mobile assets to the global economy, free from any stereotypes associated with their socioeconomic class or zip code. This truth is especially critical for schools that serve vulnerable learning populations where one year’s growth in one year’s time will not come close to closing the gap that stands between them and self-directed choices in college or career.
One School’s Story
James B. Congdon Elementary School is located in the south end of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and serves approximately 300 students in grades kindergarten through five. The
school was built in 1907, sits in a densely clustered neighborhood, with roads narrow enough to present challenges for passage in times of snow in this coastal New England city. More than 85%
of Congdon students are designated as “high needs,” and over 50% are identified as “first language other than English” by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). For more detailed demographic information about Congdon, visit bit.ly/3dz4gSc. In any typical year, approximately one-third of all students reached the advanced or proficient level on standardized testing in both Math and ELA.
In July of 2015, Ms. Darcie Aungst was announced as the new principal after serving as a middle school assistant principal in New Bedford Public Schools (NBPS). It was her first principalship, and she was excited for the opportunity to continue to serve students. The school building was old and showing wear, but the staff was dedicated and welcomed her arrival. They were hoping that her promises to stay would actually come true.
The remarkable progress that occurred at Congdon Elementary over the next four years has received significant attention and acclaim, including being recognized for two years in a row by DESE as a “School of Recognition”. Congdon Elementary was highlighted as one of six schools in Massachusetts receiving commendations in all three areas of high achievement, high growth, and exceptional performance relative to improvement targets.
In this blog we will share excerpts from an interview with Principal Aungst as she shares her thoughts about the journey that she and her team led to improve teaching and learning for all students, no exceptions.
This post is an excerpt from an article that will appear in the MRA primer later this year. The article tells the story of how one principal in New Bedford Public Schools worked with her instructional leader team to promote and champion literacy for all students, including the most at-risk and vulnerable learners.