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Public Prep's launch of virtual learning and ongoing commitment to inclusion

8/28/2020

Dear Friends,

On August 25th, we opened our doors to 2,100 scholars across five campuses, including our inaugural year of Girls Prep Bronx II. While we will have ongoing news and updates to share on the academic year, I felt it important to reflect on the work we have accomplished over the summer in preparation for this moment.

In June, we shared with you our message of solidarity and our commitment to action — examining, with humility and diligence, how our own practices and agency can continue to be a force of change. That work continues and is embedded into the threads of all of our decisions and interactions. 

OUR EFFORTS IN ACTION

Required summer reading enforces our belief in educating the whole child and our mantra “Every Child Must Grow:"
The required summer texts reinforced our commitment to culturally responsive teaching and the importance of modeling the type of learning experiences that we want to see for our scholars. Our staff were charged with internalizing the culturally responsive brain rules, creating meaningful learning experiences that empower all of our scholars to become independent learners, and understanding that when we invest in the recognition, understanding, labeling, expressing and regulating of emotions, we can create a learning community that provides a space for student voice, agency and a culture of learning. Our required texts for staff included:

  1. "Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students" by Zaretta Hammond (required for leaders and teachers leaders only)
  2. "Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive" by Marc Brackett (required for all staff)

DEI work is further embedded in our organization and integrated through our programs:
Our partnership with Perception Institute, which began during the 2019-20 school year, launched network-wide sessions during our Leadership and Summer Institutes with robust conversations around implicit bias, adultification, racial disparities in school discipline, colorism and stereotype threat. We continue to build on the efforts of our campus based DEI teams, which will incorporate issues of identity, representation, justice and more into daily interactions. We are excited to announce our partnership with Beloved Community for an equity audit, a comprehensive bench-marking tool that assesses diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts from a structural perspective. The Equity Audit will provide over 180 customized indicators to assess governance, operations, program/pedagogy, adult culture and, where applicable, student culture, and will include recommended next steps to align our work. 

 

Noteworthy Increase in Family Voice and Engagement:
Throughout the summer, we’ve hosted a series of webinars for our most important stakeholders -- our families. Eight webinars were offered in both English and Spanish, and have drawn 2,465 attendees. Adding to the effort were campus-based webinars led by our Principals to further build local community, listen to concerns, and prepare families for what lies ahead for a school opening like none other.

WHY WE DO THE WORK
Scholars like Summer Rae share reflections on her elementary experience, our core values and how teachers have shaped her life! 

We are leading through the toughest time likely in all of our lifetimes. With COVID-19 and much needed attention on racial inequities in our country, we want to acknowledge three truths:

  • Our promises to children and families are more critical to their lives now, literally and figuratively. Education is ONE way we can support communities with closing some of the gaps in earning and access. 
  • Our team, and our plans, will need to remain malleable and we continue to approach this new year with flexibility and understanding of the unique pressures and pulls on us all. 
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion as well as the science behind culturally responsive teaching will be integral components of our work with all staff members and as such will also be a focus of our long-term planning.

We have named this year the Year of Resilience. Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. Our challenge, which we hope you will join us in, is ensuring that we are reaching All of our Scholars ALL of the Time.  We are committed to ensuring that all of our classrooms are intellectually and socially safe for all of our scholars. I am proud of our staff whose daily actions are changing the narrative for what is possible for Black and Brown low income children. Together we are working to end generational poverty and transform families and the community that we love so deeply.


#YearofResilience

In Partnership,

Janelle Bradshaw, CEO