The Blackstone School
Believing that a community is only as healthy as its schools, in 2010 we began what has become a flourishing partnership with the Blackstone Elementary School. Many of our students attend the school, located steps from our South End site. Its designation as a “Turnaround School” provided the catalyst for change which enabled us to begin forming partnerships with administrators and teachers. As a voting member of the Blackstone’s School Site Council, we helped create the school’s mission and vision, and participated on the search committee that hired Principal Paris-Jefferies. We have brought together a wide, diverse network of religious and secular organizations to create positive changes.
In the summer of 2012, Blackstone School partners formalized their collaboration by creating a non-profit, Friends of the Blackstone School, Inc. Our Director of Youth Programs, Liz Steinhauser, serves on its Advisory Board. If you are interested in volunteering at the Blackstone, or in other partnership opportunities in the South End, please contact Meg McDermott (email@example.com), our School and Community Partnership Organizer.
On March 2nd, 2012 the Blackstone’s new, lending library opened. Students had been without a functioning library for over 20 years. A dusty, unused storage space with poor lighting and out of date books was transformed into a state-of-the-art library. Our South End School and Community Organizer, Meg McDermott coordinated the efforts of volunteers, especially those from our partner church Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester. The volunteers included retired children’s librarians, and parents who had volunteered in public school libraries and Masters students in library science from Simmons College.
The library is open five days a week, and has 9,000 volumes including a 1,500 volume Open Circle collection. An electronic database tracks the inventory, allowing students to check-out books for the first time. In addition to students and teachers, the comfortable, inviting space is used by CityYear, Generations Incorporated, and Power Lunch volunteers working with students. Meg continues to schedule volunteers, orchestrate classroom visits, and overseeing the check-out process.
A teen organizing project to renovate the Blackstone greenhouse has grown into a hands-on science and nutrition curriculum which involves numerous partners including BLGruppo (The Barbara Lynch Group) which chose the Blackstone to host their new philanthropic project, Meet The Worms! MTW! promotes urban gardening and healthy living. |Watch the video| Through this collaboration, our teens have learned about local agriculture, nutrition and health, and the science curriculum in Boston Public Schools. The experience sparked their interest in environmental issues that have a negative impact on their communities. The teens recently worked with a city-wide group, YMORE, to reduce air pollution caused by diesel emissions and the prevalence of asthma and other pollution-related illnesses in their neighborhoods
We coordinate a fleet of volunteers from the community, local colleges and universities and other non-profits to support teachers throughout the school day. Two or three time a year, we host service days in observance of MLK Day and the anniversary of 9/11. 50-200 volunteers from the community, partner churches, colleges and non-profit partners join our teens and staff to renovate and redecorate the building. We also support teachers by organizing Teacher Appreciation Day events and “Adopt a Classroom” projects.