The Blackstone School Partnership

BPS Blackstone Elementary SchoolOn December 17, 2014, the South End News featured the partnership between the Blackstone Innovation School and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. The following content from the article provides an overview of their partnership:

By Brittany Marcum & Liz Steinhauser

“In 2010, the Boston Public Schools designated the Blackstone as a “turnaround school,” due to its failure to meet various measures of educational success, including student scores on standardized tests.   The turnaround status brought in new administrators, a new teaching team, and a new strategic plan which emphasized the importance of family engagement and community partnerships.  St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church was poised and ready to become one of the Blackstone’s most active community partners. St. Stephen’s hosts the B-READY Afterschool Program which serves 220 students every school day with academic and enrichment programs; sixty of the youth participants are Blackstone students.   An improved school was in the interest of St. Stephen’s because of its relationships with these youth and their families. In addition, as the Rev. Tim Crellin, Vicar of St. Stephen’s, put it, “St. Stephen’s believes that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. And the Blackstone School is our church neighbor. We want to participate in the process of making the Blackstone an excellent neighborhood school.”

Over the past five years, organizers and leaders of St. Stephen’s have convened a broad and diverse partnership of partners. More than twenty faith-based and secular organizations have worked together tirelessly to transform the school, support teachers, and improve the learning environment.  This effort, along with dedicated work of educators, students and many other community partners, has been successful, as the Blackstone met all of its goals and has transitioned out of turnaround status and become an Innovation School.

One of St. Stephen’s key contributions to the school was the transformation of a dusty, poorly lit storage space with out-of-date books and encyclopedias into a state-of-the-art library. After more than a decade without a functional library, the Blackstone now has one of the best libraries in any BPS elementary school. The library has a collection of 10,000+ relevant books and an online and searchable catalog that allows teachers to use the library for lesson planning. A dedicated team of volunteers welcome students five days a week for read-alouds and book loaning to students. For many of the students, this is their first experience being able to take out books. New volumes and resources are added to the library on a regular basis, thanks to the generosity of this team who come from Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, Friends of the Blackstone, and the Simmons Graduate School of Library Science.”