On Monday, August 24, Chelsea High School was bustling with teachers, staff and community members. After staff gathered for breakfast, the crowd listened intently to a motivating speech led by the Superintendent of Chelsea Public Schools, Dr. Mary Bourque. She welcomed back the members of the Chelsea Public Schools and offered a big thanks for all their hard work, filling the Chelsea High gymnasium with enthusiasm and energy for the upcoming school year.
Dr. Bourque gave a special shout-out to the custodians who spent all summer cleaning and re-cleaning the facilities.
“Thank you to all who keep us running 365 days a year,” Bourque said, as she gratefully acknowledged the cafeteria workers, custodians and crossing guards. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
The crowd applauded as Dr. Bourque introduced staff members who assist in maintaining and bettering the Chelsea Public School district, including, the Chelsea Police Department, the IT Department, the City Manager as well as State Representatives.
Bourque also discussed the Bridge To Success, a five-year commitment that has been established to ensure that all students achieve at high levels, think critically, and graduate from the school system college and career-ready. Chelsea Public Schools is committed to being a model for other school districts in the way they utilize this practice. The list of values associated with the commitment includes:
All children can learn
Results matter more than intentions and it is the job of adults in the community to help children succeed
The diversity of our school community is a source of strength and a resource for the education of all learners
It is our job to take students from where they are to where they need to be
“What we stated on that warm day in August 2011, and we have restated frequently since, is that we are engaged in the deep transformational change work of a school system; not a school, but rather changing the systemof how we work together and how we educate all students in Chelsea,” she said. “We have taken our work to scale across nine schools. We have done by designing and implementing the structures, pushing and moving the culture, and as Richard Elmore would state, by impacting the instructional core—impacting the classroom—impacting each student, one pupil at a time. Together, let’s reflect today on where have we come from.”
Bourque stressed that over the last four years, the staff and teachers have bought into the “Chelsea way” of educating young people, and the results are showing.
“We shifted our collective culture to what is now known as the ‘Chelsea Way’ of education—a culture of adult learning, collaboration—and inclusivity; everything we do, we Chelseafy it to meet our needs,” she said. “We believe in co-planning, inclusion, co-teaching; re-teaching, feedback, reflection, and we welcome and educate all students without question – from 67 countries and speaking 36 languages. We have opened our doors and partnered with our community. As a result, more than ever over the last four years our community has deepened their value of, support of, and belief in our schools. We have worked with pride with our community partners to support our students, their families, our educators, and our programs. We have expanded our work to collaborate with other school districts such as the 5 District Partnership, and we learn; we constantly seek to learn from each other.”
Chelsea Public School District will utilize values and initiatives to raise the daily student attendance rate, lower the dropout rate and ensure that proper testing is implemented at the middle school levels, prior to moving on to high school.
Bourque, however, did issue a challenge and said the state had pointed out in a June review of Chelsea Public Schools that not all students were getting better.
“We have yet to see the consistent and needed impact at the instructional core—at the student level classroom to classroom, school to school,” she said. “As Jim Collins states, in order to go from good to great, we need to face the brutal facts of where we are and where we need to grow and improve. This is what the state highlighted to us in their review of our school district in June. We are impacting and closing the achievement gap for some but not for all students.”
Currently, six of Chelsea’s nine schools are at a Level 3 Accountability Status.
“We are not meeting the level of rigor needed for 21st Century learning in all classrooms and for all students,” said Bourque. “Together, we own these facts, and together, in the coming school year, we will commit to address these findings. We will commit to accelerating learning.”
Excitement for the upcoming school year rippled through the crowded gymnasium at that point, as Bourque stated enthusiastically, “Welcome back to the accelerated school year. The energy is electric.”