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Massachusetts Charter Schools

Profiles of Dissemination

The Department is pleased to present these Dissemination Profiles which highlight the important work that charter schools and district partners are doing to share innovative, educational best practices. It is our hope that sharing these practices and partnerships can help to educate stakeholders and facilitate relationships between districts and charter schools in order to improve educational outcomes for all students across the Commonwealth.

Codman Academy Charter School

Best Practice: Improving Literacy Skills through the Arts
Applicable Charter School Performance Criteria: Criterion 6: Program Delivery

Summary: At Codman, educators use theatre and arts education to improve students' literacy skills. Students practice critical reading and public speaking skills in a social justice-themed showcase, theatre competitions, and a summer Shakespearean play with the support of the Huntington Theatre Company, a partnership the school has maintained for 22 years. Teachers also incorporate visual arts education into core assignments so all students have a creative outlet and sensory stimulation. Students in kindergarten through grade eight have access to a fully equipped dance studio and studio art classroom.

Students in grade 12 practice their literacy and public speaking skills through Senior Talks. As a graduation requirement, seniors write and deliver a speech in front of the entire Upper School student body modeled after Socrates' "Apologia." The Senior Talks are a culmination of each student's years of theatre training, Humanities work, and deep self-reflection.

Helen Y Davis Leadership Academy Charter Public School

Best Practice: DLA's Annual Sneakerball
Applicable Charter School Performance Criteria: Criterion 6: Program Delivery

Summary: DLA's Annual Sneakerball is a two-part urban research project and art showcase event. The Sneakerball initiative began in December 2018. Each November students participate in a month-long sneaker design contest in which the school learns about the roots of popular streetwear and the ancestral and current imprint of black culture on high fashion. During the enrichment portion of the program, students design innovative shoe colorways and write captions that explain the origin, purpose and meaning of their shoe designs. The program's culminating event is the Sneakerball, held on the first Friday of each December, during the school's winter formal (see the recap of the 2022 Sneakerball). At the Sneakerball, students dress in "tux and chucks" pairing their most fashionable formal attire with their favorite pair of sneakers. During the Sneakerball, artists and representatives from companies like Laced and Concepts select finalists from all student sneaker designs. Prizes for the final student winners have included tours of Laced Boston and Bodega, and gifts or gift cards to local stores. In 2021, the school was honored to host ProBlak, the Boston muralist, as a featured judge.

Alma del Mar Charter School

Best Practice: Integrating the Arts into Monthly Celebrations
Applicable Charter School Performance Criteria: Criterion 6: Program Delivery

Summary: Alma del Mar Charter School is a multi-campus charter school in New Bedford serving students in grades kindergarten through eight. Each campus has a Thematic Month Committee which identifies ways to incorporate the arts and other programmatic elements into monthly celebrations. For Black History Month, the committee at Alma's Sarah D. Ottiwell Campus featured student learning about African American/Black historical figures through the creation of tile murals.

Each grade level learned about a historical figur and together created a tile mural portrait of activists like Rosa Parks, Colin Kaepernick and Booker T. Washington. Each student creating one tile in the mural using color, shading and drawing). The murals were displayed in the school's hallways accompanied by educational displays about each historical figure to expand the learning opportunity.

Bridge Boston Charter School

Best Practice: Students as Artists
Applicable Charter School Performance Criteria: Criterion 6: Program Delivery

Summary: In December 2022, Bridge Boston Charter School held its first ever art show. The community event motivated students and brought the school community together through arts education. Students in grades five through eight spent two months creating art pieces in art class to sell in the show. Pieces ranged from drawings and paintings to bracelets, t-shirts, stickers, and more! Each student wrote an "Artist Statement" to hang at their table that described them and their art. During the art show, parents, families, and community members were invited to browse and purchase displayed art while the fifth grade ensemble from the El Sistema Music Program performed songs.

Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School

Best Practice: Integrated Curriculum Projects
Applicable Charter School Performance Criteria: Criterion 6: Program Delivery

Summary: Hilltown Charter is a K-8 school with a mission to engage students in experiential learning, hands-on activities, the arts, and interdisciplinary studies to foster critical thinking skills and a joy of learning. The expressive arts play a critical role in Hilltown's academic and social curriculum and create a common language to unite the school community. To meet its mission, Hilltown embeds the arts into daily experiences, and to meaningfully integrate arts and academic learning. Students in all grades have weekly classes in visual arts, music, and movement in addition to their core academics. Arts and academics teachers have regular, scheduled meeting time to collaborate and to identify integration opportunities. Students create integrated curriculum projects (ICPs) which reflect a deeper study of content reflected in arts. After completing ICPs, student share their learning and musical performances related to the ICPs at "All School" presentations every Friday afternoon. Hilltown displays student artwork related to these projects throughout the school as well as the website.

Examples of Integrated Curriculum Projects, 2021-22
Examples of Featured Studies

Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School

Best Practice: Creating Opportunities in the Arts
Applicable Charter School Performance Criteria: Criterion 6: Program Delivery

Summary: PVPA's curriculum includes over 60 offerings of diverse arts courses per semester across four main disciplines: Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts/Technical Theater. Students begin their experience at PVPA with the "Arts Core" classes which provide students exposure to the school's four main arts disciplines. As they prepare for graduation, students engage in courses such as the "Music Art is Life" class in which students learn how to navigate a career in music. PVPA provides yearly opportunities for students to showcase their talents to the larger community through 10 public main stage productions, performances in local elementary and middle schools, partnerships with national and international arts organizations, local artistic internships and performance opportunities, and PVPA's new bi-annual visual arts gallery showing.

Community Day Charter Public School

Best Practice: Community Celebrations
Applicable Charter School Performance Criteria: Criterion 7: School Climate and Family Engagement

Summary: CDCPS staff strive to create a strong sense of connection and belonging through community celebrations. Some celebrations happen at campus levels through awards designed to highlight student character as he/she/they embody positive characteristics of kindness, respect, and care. Students are highlighted in the Early Learning Centers for "Filling My Bucket", at the Lower School grades 2-4 with a "Vision Trophy" or in the Upper grades with a "My Responsibility" designation. Other celebrations promote acceptance of individuality and diversity such as all campuses supporting "Unity Day", the signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month where all wear orange to unit for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion to prevent students being bullied. This is accompanied by activities K1-8 through morning circles, family meetings within the classroom, and associated projects like the Unity Chain to discuss the significance and purpose of the day.

Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School

Best Practice: CARE Program
Applicable Charter School Performance Criteria: Criterion 7: School Climate and Family Engagement

Summary: About a decade ago, Banneker teachers created a school wide initiative, CARE (Community, Achievement, Responsibility, Experience) to ground their school goals and expectations. This school year, the Banneker SEL Taskforce updated the CARE initiative to include read alouds and additional lessons to reinforce the CARE values and monthly student nominations. Each month, classrooms nominate one student for each of the CARE values and their photos are displayed in the hallways and individual classrooms create unique ways to celebrate their nominated students.

Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School

Best Practice: Culture Celebrations and Homage
Applicable Charter School Performance Criteria: Criterion 7: School Climate and Family Engagement

Summary: Through authentic learning experiences, student leadership opportunities, and the integration of Character Education across the curriculum, BFCCPS has created a caring and supportive environment that encourages students to celebrate diversity and ensures all members of the community feel welcomed and safe at school. Two recent examples of this are the creation of a Diwali Celebration and a service initiative to support Ukraine, Both started by students who articulated a need in the community.

Map Academy Charter School

Best Practice: School Culture
Applicable Charter School Performance Criteria: Criterion 7: School Climate and Family Engagement

Summary: MACS has created a website to share the school community's journey to create a high school that meets the needs of students who have not thrived in other settings. As an alternative charter high school, MACS understands that students' past school experiences have often fractured their trust in the educational system. Therefore, MACS prioritizes relationship building between school community members even if that means shifting the academic focus until after trust is built; their practice is to be sensitive to students' realities, creating a culture and physical space where every student can thrive.

Last Updated: May 19, 2014

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