Performance data is certainly important, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to turning around a failing school.
The “climate” of a school, or whether or not a child feels safe in their learning environment, can have profound effects on students and academic performance.
I wanted to share with my readers a very moving letter to the editor, published in the Connecticut Post, which recounts the changes made at James J. Curiale School in Bridgeport, due in large part to their participation in the Commissioner’s Network.
In the letter, Curiale parent and Parent Advisory Council President Tonya Whitley praises Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor for creating the program that gave extra support and funds to her daughter’s school:
“I am a parent of three Bridgeport public school students. When my seven year old daughter entered James J. Curiale School I cried every day because I didn’t want her there. It was normal to hear teachers and parents or students fighting and/or bickering in the halls. I didn’t feel comfortable as a parent leaving my daughter in school. I feared for her safety. I didn’t get involved in any school events because I wasn’t aware of any. I couldn’t tell you who the principal was or what he/she looked like. I felt like I was failing my daughter every day that I sent her to school.
Over the summer of that year I heard about the new positive changes that were going to be taken place due to the commissioner’s network, including a new principal. When the school year started Mr. Brett Gustafson came out and introduced himself to us, the parents! He personally invited us to school events and made us feel welcomed. From here is when I started to get involved with the school and volunteer whenever I could. In addition, I formed many close relationships with school staff and parents…
I am now the P.A.C. (Parent Advisory Council) president and can honestly say I’m extremely proud to represent my school. A few years ago, I wouldn’t recognize or admit that I sent my daughter to this school, but because of the changes that are taking place (we’re still in the beginning phases) for the better, I’m a very proud parent and honored to be a apart of James J. Curiale School and I owe it all to the Commissioner’s Network! That’s why I’m disappointed to see that Connecticut’s Education Commissioner is being attacked by certain politicians. Commissioner Pryor created the “Commissioner’s Network” for Connecticut schools. Thanks to this program, struggling schools like the one my daughter attends are able to get extra funding and support to improve. As a Bridgeport Public Schools parent, I’m grateful for Commissioner Pryor and his leadership. Without him none of these great changes would be happening at Curiale.”
To read the full letter, Click here: [Connecticut Post, 3/19/2014]
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