Monday, July 8, 2013

Transforming Brockton High School

From June 30 to July 3rd six teachers and administrators attended a Model Schools Conference in Washington D.C.. Attending the conference were Mrs. Boyea, Mrs. Cartier, Mrs. Fowler, Mrs. Tourville, Mrs, Breault and Mr. Trombley (that would be me). We were initially inspired by a speech from Bill Daggett who came to Malone in May to speak to the public and staff about the changes coming with the new curriculum and the new tests. We decided the school needed to act and we committed to this conference. While just about every speaker and presentation was amazing I cam away with the utmost respect and awe of Susan Szachowicz. She was the principal of Brockton High School. Her school was once heralded as the worst high school in Massachusetts. It has since been transformed into one the best high schools in the country. Listening to he speak you have to wonder if she created this all on her own. Reading the book she wrote about her experience tells a different story.
Her book describes the tedious and difficult process it took to turn the school around. She talks about tough staff meetings, resistance from great teachers unwilling to try something different and the outright defiance from those who wanted nothing to do with change. The process was long but on one year their score improved so dramatically that it did not take long for the most of the staff to buy into the process.
That process is as "simple" as a return to literacy and rigor. It required dedication, determination and documentation and the involvement of EVERYONE. Teachers and students were all going to take the same trip. The book explains in great detail some of the scripts and training the school district used.  She has clearly given away the secrets to any school that wants them. And I think CCS wants them. We do quite well against regional schools and quite well when stacked up against state results, but we can and must do better. I think this book will help up lead he way.
I purchased my own copy and had it signed by her. The district also purchased a copy for people to share but I am willing to share as well. (But I will want it back please.)
This really is a must read for the staff. I know that Mrs. Tourville and Mrs. Fowler have already determined that this is a path we will be taking There will be discussions about how to implement these methods as well as training and input from all people. But if a school of 4,000 students can make a dramatic turnaround, imagine what we can do. We already work fairly well together but we can and will do better.
Take a few moments to read this book when you get time. You will be inspired. I just wish we could bottle her up and bring her spirit with us. Maybe we would could secure her for a training in the future.
Great book - great person - highly recommended.

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