There was a time when teachers and administrators from charter, Catholic, and public district schools didn’t speak to one another. Each felt the work they were doing was unique, even though the problems they confronted were similar.
Shortly after our arrival in Dorchester in 2010, one of the co-founders of Boston Collegiate Charter School, which is located down the street, invited me to lunch. Soon our staffs were talking to one another, and this year we agreed to use an educational consulting firm that is helping both schools study and learn from our students’ PSAT and SAT exam results. The consultants analyze students’ answers to test questions and identify specific skills that need to be developed. The consultants, for example, helped us realize that students successfully applied their inference, vocabulary, analogy, and other critical reading skills to short reading passages but were less successful with longer texts. As a result, we begin giving students longer reading passages during classroom exams starting in freshmen year.
Conversations between teachers from both schools have been incredibly enriching. Our faculty spent time at Boston Collegiate observing and discussing teaching strategies, and their teachers came here to do the same. We’ve learned a lot from one another, we value our partnership, and we’ve discussed expanding the partnership to other schools in our community.
Of course, we’re also part of the national Cristo Rey Network, a group of 24 high schools nationwide that serve nearly 7,000 students, employ 1150 people, partner with 1600 companies nationwide, and have a collective operating budget of $85 million. Our staff will visit several Cristo Rey schools this year to share best practices and gather new ideas, leaders from other schools will visit us, and there are several national meetings of Cristo Rey school leaders.
In the spirit of collaboration with our fellow Cristo Rey schools, we have a little wager with our friends from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School of Baltimore. If the Baltimore Ravens win the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, we will send the school some lobster tails, and if the Patriots beat the Ravens, they’ll send us some crab cakes! Obviously, we’re rooting for the hometown Patriots!
Collaboration and even a healthy competition between schools can be fun and can have a positive impact on kids from the center city.
Below is a promotional piece on Sunday’s bet: