Say ‘Hola!’ Warren Prescott students.
That will be the greeting amongst students and staff this year as a new Extended Learning Time (ELT) grant from the state has ushered in Spanish language teaching for the entire school, grades K1-8. It’s one of several changes at the elementary school on School Street that will be unveiled this school year.
Principal Michele Davis said the ELT grant will allow the school to add 40 minutes to the regular school day, which frees them up to offer innovative programs inside the regular day rather than in after-school programs or not at all.
The new dismissal time will be at 3:10 p.m. instead of 2:30 p.m.
“We were one of 16 schools chosen to be in the first round of ELT grants,” she said. “The School Site Council worked very closely with me to make sure we were one of the first schools. We surveyed the parents and students as to what types of programs they wanted to see for ELT… We’ll be able to have more dynamic programming in math and science…Warren Prescott has always been able to have lots of after-school programs and some of these programs we are able to include in the school day now. For example, we always had after-school chorus and now we’ll have that during the school day. We were able to figure out how to have a great balance of academic and enrichment activities during the day.”
Other examples of after-school programs that will now be brought into the regular day are the Berklee School of Music program and the Science from Scientists program. The Homework Help program was an example of one program that was kept as an after-school offering, at the request of the school community, she said.
On the other side of Charlestown, the Harvard-Kent School was also chosen for ELT, as well as several schools in East Boston – all with different goals for their newfound time.
At the Warren Prescott, one of the monumental changes to the academic school day will be adding Spanish language teaching in every grade – from K1-8.
“Because we are one of the first, we are able to add Spanish as a specialty from K1 to eighth grade,” said Davis. “We are very excited about that. We hired a dynamic Spanish teacher and we are working with the district’s director of world languages, Julie Calderone, on that. She was a huge part of the process to identify curriculum. She worked with a committee to make sure we had a great fit for the Warren Prescott School. That’s huge. We are one of the first public schools to have languages taught in kindergarten through eighth grade.”
That new Spanish specialist is Carol Rijo, who was on site Tuesday morning – the first day of school – and ready to lead the new initiative.
“I’m very excited to be here and to teach all the kids Spanish,” she said. “The sooner you start, the better.”
Calderone said she was excited to get the full-school Spanish program off the ground at the Warren Prescott, but has much higher hopes for the future of all students in Boston.
“I’m hoping our efforts here will help bring world languages to all Boston students, K-12, in the future,” she said. “It’s great that we’re bringing it here to this school this year.”
Added Davis, “It really is a positive thing for our school community to do these things. Kids are excited, parents are excited and teachers are excited. Flexibility is going to be our mantra this year so we can implement this in a way that’s meaningful.”
Another big change for the school will be the addition of a K1 classroom.
“It just so happens that, at the same time, we were approved to open an K1 classroom, which I think is fabulous,” said Davis. “That is populated by a lot of siblings whose brothers or sisters already go to the school. It’s hard when parents have children at different schools. This is a way to have them at one school, especially when parents are so pleased with what we do.”