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Schools receive $1.8M in grants

February 1, 2013

PROVIDENCE – Five schools in Woonsocket and Smithfield have won $1.8 million in grants to improve student reading skills in partnership with The Teaching Studio, a nationally recognized group of consulting teachers based at The Learning Community charter school.
The grants, from the Rhode Island Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation, will provide training and other resources for over 200 teachers who will reach about 6,000 public school students, the Learning Community announced Thursday.
Most of the money targets Globe Park Elementary School, Harris Elementary School, Leo Savoie Elementary School, the Gov. Aram J. Pothier Elementary School, all in Woonsocket, and the Old County Road School in Smithfield. But representatives of six other schools, including Woonsocket’s Bernon Heights, Citizens Memorial and Kevin K. Coleman elementary schools and Smithfield’s Anna McCabe, Raymond LaPerche and William Windsor schools, will also have access to programs supported by the grant.
Among other things, the money will support expansion of reading programs aligned to national standards; training for reading specialists; supplementary materials; a “master scheduler” to help align the school day to maximize instructional time; and an ongoing statistical analysis to monitor progress and guide future instruction.
“We are honored to be selected as a partner in this effort, said Dr. Giovanna Donoyan, superintendent of schools in Woonsocket. “And we are thrilled that the work will have an impact across our district, supporting reading achievement for every student.”
The Rhode Island Foundation called the grants “a great example of charter schools doing what charter schools were envisioned to do: serve as laboratories for best practices to share with the greater public sector.”
“We’re pleased to the see the nationally-recognized work of The Teaching Studio benefit a broader group of schools,” said Denise Jenkins, grant programs officer for education at RIF.
The Teaching Studio is the professional development consulting group of The Learning Community, one of the state’s best-performing, high-poverty schools, according to Christine Alves, the director. One of the founding goals of the school, established in 2004, was to shoot for professional excellence and to “share what works.” The school established the core group of consulting teachers to provide customized support for educators and to improve student achievement.
The Teaching Studio’s work with Central Falls public schools received national attention in the past.
The architect of the Central Falls initiative, Alves said it’s critical to put the voices of teachers in the center of school improvement efforts.
“I’m thrilled to gather more teachers to work collaboratively on the latest teaching techniques and using data to inform instruction,” she said. “Central to The Learning Community’s mission is sharing best practices with other public schools.”
Smithfield Schools Supt. Robert O’Brien called the grant “a great acknowledgement of the incredible teachers working hard in our classrooms every day. We can’t wait to begin.”
Public schools throughout the state were invited to apply for the grants last spring. Selection was based on thoroughness of applications, site visits, interviews with faculty and administrators, and survey feedback from teachers. The first training and planning sessions begin this month.

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