Since the hiring of Sherley Bretous in the 2011-2012 school year, many positive changes have occurred, most important of which was the creation of the Curriculum, Instruction, and Support Team. This team is made up of both ELA coaches, both Math coaches, the Technology Director, and the Executive Director. This group acts as the executive academic body of the school. During her tenure, Ms. Bretous has steadily increased test scores and facilities. The Technology Director, Jared Perrine, has been at the school for 11 years and is involved with the MassCUE and METTA boards. Ms. Bretous and Mr. Perrine have been integral in creating what we call the "Banneker Experience," which includes numerous enriching school activities designed for increased student engagement.
Innovative Learning and Teaching
The Banneker Experience is what we call the unique offerings that the students of Banneker receive. This includes yearly events, such as our 4th grade musical; teams and organizations, such as the cross country team, the Adventure Club, the Innovation lab; and the wide variety of field trips (including a 6th grade trip to Washington D.C.). The Banneker offers a wide variety of technology resources, including our one-to-one laptop program, most of which are accessible to our students on the web at home. As well, the Banneker offers a student-to-teacher ratio that is not seen in other public institutions. Each classroom has a teacher and teaching associate, and also least one supportive special education teacher, two coaches, and specialists who are frequent visitors to the classroom. In addition, the Banneker layers academic support in the form of three different after-school programs, each targeting a different cohort of students. It is this layering of resources, as well has the familial atmosphere, that makes the Banneker a special place.
Ongoing Professional Learning
Our staff participates in our “Stay Late Tuesdays.” Each of these days are split up between ELA, Math, Science, and Technology training. As well, staff are encouraged to participate in external professional development opportunities, such as conferences. The real shining point of Banneker’s PD offerings is the half day trainings. These happen 6-7 times per year. In these sessions, staff members choose their personal learning groups. For example, the STEM committee helps to plan our annual STEAMS Expo, and the Technology group visits other institutions to see and share best practices in technology integration and design thinking concepts.
Compelling Evidence of Success
Since the advent of the one-to-one program (as well as many other supportive academic programs) and the hiring of Ms. Bretous as Executive Director, Banneker has continued to increase both MCAS and PARCC scores. Currently, Banneker has surpassed the state in all assessed content areas, most notably in the in the black and low-income subgroups. As well, Banneker far surpasses those subgroups from both major sending districts (Boston and Cambridge).
Flexible Learning Environment
Every classroom in the Banneker has the following technologies: an AppleTV for wireless screen sharing capabilities, a document camera to better display visuals to all students, and digital HD projector with sound passthrough. As well, every classroom is set up with remote management software and a dedicated wireless access point. In grades 3-6, one-to-one laptop rooms, students no longer have the traditional desks. Instead, they utilize “flip” tables with casters. And while there is no official one-to-one computer program in grades K1-2, the overall student to computing devices ratio is 1:1. The one-to-one laptop program has grown every year since the 2010-2011 school year.