Agassiz Elementary

Maria Cordon, Principal
20 Child Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Phone: 617-635-8198
Directions via Google Maps
Access via MBTA Public Transit
BPS Report on Teaching & Learning for Agassiz Elementary

Partner University: Harvard University
Family Community Outreach Coordinator:
Orlando Diaz
Number of Students: 528

Step UP Activities

  • This year at the Agassiz, Harvard supported two after-school programs (70 children) and 16 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms (258 children) during extended learning time (ELT) in the use of SmartTALK.
  • The Harvard Achievement Support Initiative (HASI) conducted multiple SmartTALK training sessions throughout the year, including two separate three-hour sessions in the fall for after-school directors and staff and for third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade teachers.
  • HASI also conducted a four-hour SmartTALK intensive training session for all City Year (CY) corps members, in which the Agassiz corps took part.
  • HASI staff members coached the CY members and provided them with bi-weekly math training to lead math groups during ELT (Power Hour).
  • HASI provided additional homework supplies, learning centers, and other materials to supplement and refresh the SmartTALK kits from 2007-08 and new activity guides to help improve use of the SmartTALK materials.
  • Responding to a direct request from the principal, HASI funded and managed work-study placements for two Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) students who coached and mentored CY members providing English Language Arts (ELA) instruction to small groups in grades three through five during Power Hour. HGSE students met bi-weekly with 10 CY members to provide feedback and ELA tools, strategies, and resources. The students also provided technical assistance to corps members within classrooms during Power Hour.
  • One of the HGSE students further developed her relationship with the Agassiz by selecting the school as her Field Experience Program (FEP) site. While conducting her FEP, she developed a case study looking at the organizational coherence in the HASI, City Year, and Agassiz School partnership, providing a platform for making recommendations to enhance the partnership.
  • Two HASI staff members conducted weekly coaching visits from November to June to further solidify the inclusion of the SmartTALK materials and philosophy in the after-school programs and Power Hour. Coaching focused on facilitating small-group learning, effective homework practices, and academic enrichment activities.
  • In an effort to extend the learning beyond school-day and after-school time, HASI offered two family breakfast events focused on the SmartTALK program: In February, HASI helped facilitate a Family Literacy Breakfast, at which parents learned that talking about new words with their children and having their children retell stories and special events are great ways to help their children become strong readers. Family members played literacy games and received their own games to take home. Three larger literacy-focused games were raffled off at the end of the session. At a HASI-facilitated Family Math Breakfast in March, parents learned that engaging their children in math games at home can help prepare them for the MCAS, improve their recall of basic facts, and support their development of spatial reasoning. Each family received two bags of math games, and a raffle was held for four larger math-focused games.
  • A Harvard leadership coach provided on-site support to the principal throughout the yearótwo full days per week in September and October, and one day a week beginning in November. The coach conducted data-driven analysis of the 2008 MCAS and provided results and tools for performance and school improvement planning; engaged parents in workshops about MCAS preparation; and supported the principal in preparing and facilitating meetings with the district, school staff, and school partners.
  • In March HASI facilitated a focus group that brought together all partners involved in ELT and after-school programming to discuss the content, communication, and coherence of the collaborative work.
  • Tufts nutrition graduate students taught a workshop on the USDA Food Pyramid to parents, teachers, and staff and worked with the Family Community Outreach Coordinator (FCOC) on the Biggest Winner program, a new healthy-lifestyle competition. Tufts also distributed a monthly newsletter as part of the nutrition program.
  • Tufts nutrition graduate students ran two training workshops for after-school program leaders and sent them Health Eating Active Time (HEAT) Club curriculum. Leaders at the Agassiz Community Center received weekly updates and tips, and were asked routinely for feedback. A healthy-lifestyle newsletter for parents and children was sent to leaders for distribution. The HEAT Club curriculum provided the tools to educate students about nutritious foods, the importance of regular exercise, and developments in child health. Topics included healthy foods for under $1, foods that foster strong bones, and specific ideas to increase physical-activity levels.Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) provided all preventive treatment, including oral
    screenings, fluoride varnish, and dental sealants. Dental referrals were made for children whose cases required off-site treatment. Dental education was provided to the kindergarten and second-grade classrooms.
  • In February, during National Childrenís Dental Health Month, TUSDM promoted dental care through an in-school poster campaign.
  • Boston College's Urban Outreach Initiatives worked with the Agassiz in the spring to develop an ongoing, interactive, professional-development series on community building. The first session of all staff and teachers was titled "Community Building; Strengthening Our Approaches."