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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Nellie Mae Foundation Awards Two $275,000 Grants to Boston Public Schools

Nellie Mae Foundation Awards Two $275,000 Grants to Boston Public Schools
For Innovative Approaches to Redesigning Teaching and Learning Environments
BOSTON — Wednesday, April 18, 2018 — The Nellie Mae Education Foundation has awarded the Boston Public Schools (BPS) two grants of $275,000 each to help expand innovative, student-centered learning practices.

“I would like to thank the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for supporting our teachers and school leaders as they discover the best and most effective learning models to reach our students,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “It is important that our educators continue to improve their techniques to make sure our students are ready for the careers of tomorrow.”

The first grant will fund the design of the BPS Innovation Incubator, which helps promote one of the district’s core values, innovation, by growing the capacity of teams at schools to redesign and problem-solve. Over the next 18 months, the Innovation Incubator will engage School Retool, a design-thinking fellowship developed at Stanford University’s Design School and Ideo, the world’s premier design-thinking firm. Twenty-one teams from BPS schools serving grades 6-12 will, in essence, become innovation engines creating student-centered learning models in their schools.

The second grant, a collaboration between BPS and the Boston Teachers Union (BTU), will help facilitate professional development for teachers and school leaders on expanding and improving student-centered learning. Funds will be used to improve and personalize professional learning for high school teachers, with the goal of empowering teacher voice in the design and implementation of professional development.

This effort will be led by a “networker,” an innovative new teacher leadership role. The networker connects teachers with shared learning interests to one another for teacher-led professional learning.

"This is a great example of two sustainable models for meaningful and teacher-led professional development,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. “This would not be possible without the collaborative work between the Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teachers Union.”

Student-centered learning is a crucial catalyst for the new BPS “College, Career, and Life” definition, which promotes the redesign of our schools to enable students to set a vision, choose a course, change course, build competence, and work with others. These are the capabilities our students need to succeed in the ever-changing global economy.

"In the Boston Public Schools, we are committed to growing innovation, which we define as creating a culture of change that can generate new solutions in the classroom,” BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang said. “Both of these grants grow our innovation capacity in a rapidly changing, technology-driven world of work.”

“We are proud to have been awarded the ‘Building Teacher Leadership’ grant from Nellie Mae and to collaborate on this important project,” said BTU President Jessica Tang. “Teachers and students in Boston do innovative work every day, and we believe that including teacher voice, experience, and expertise in important district decisions like the design of professional learning represents an opportunity to make learning even more relevant and impactful for students and teachers in our high schools.”