*Respect *Courage *Responsibility *Friendship *Cultural Sensitivity *Perseverance *Self-Discipline
Welcome to the Springfield Renaissance School. Now in our 5th year of teaching and learning, we are a school community committed to our mission and to the idea that an excellent school can not only change the lives of its students, it can change the world! Some things you should know about our accomplishments so far:
1. 100% College Acceptance
Being a college-bound middle-high school means we are committed to every single one of our students following an academic program that prepares and supports them for success in college. While we recognize that going to college is a choice that belongs to each student and family, we insist that every student have a choice to make at the end of their Renaissance career. That’s why every student must complete our Crew curriculum, complete at least one application to a four year college/university, and complete a program of core course requirements over and above the SPS standard distribution requirement. Our first graduating class, the class of 2010, successfully met our 100% college acceptance goal. As of January 2011 almost 95% were enrolled in a 2 or 4 year college.
2. MCAS exams
The Massachusetts Comprehensive Academic System exams are the most rigorous statewide competency exams in the nation. Students in grades 6-8 and grade 10 sit for exams in English, mathematics, and science (gr 8 and 10). For sophomores, the exams are a graduation/diploma requirement. Our students have scored at the top of the SPS performance range every year we have existed as a school, and our sophomore scores are within striking range of the state average in regards to proficiency and advanced scores. We have seen improved cohort and schoolwide performance every year at the sophomore level, and 3 of the 4 years at the middle school level. For the two years our high school students have been eligible for Adams scholarships based upon their scores, we have had a total of 54 scholarship winners, which is almost 35% of the eligible students.
3. Student Led
Family Conferences Students in grades 6-12 have conducted over 4,900 student led family conferences. Held three times a year, the SLFCs are an opportunity for families, students and crew teachers to sit together and review a student’s work and progress at key points in the school year. With the support of the crew program, students prepare for and lead the SLFC, a responsibility that pushes students to become self-directed learners, to be organized and articulate about their learning, and to become the lead actor in the story of their school career. The Student Led Family Conference is required of all students, and successfully completing it is a condition of enrollment in the school.
4. Passage Portfolios
Students in grade 8 and 10 must successfully complete a Passage Portfolio before they can move on to the next stage of their Renaissance career. At both levels the Passage Portfolio is presented as a defense of the student’s academic work and his or her demonstrated ability to meet the Qualities of a Renaissance Graduate. It can be compared to a thesis defense and a job interview, and it demands an extraordinary level of courage, preparation, and performance. Presented and judged by a panel of family members, community guests, teachers and students, the Passage Portfolio is a singular high stakes, authentic assessment that demands a range of skills and evidence that prove the student is ready for the next big transition. For 8th graders, the Passage Portfolio stands as proof that they are ready for high school. For sophomores, it signifies they are ready to become upperclassmen and to turn more of their focus upon college and career. Over 500 Renaissance students have successfully completed a Passage Portfolio.
5. Outward Bound
Every fall our freshmen (and some transfer sophomores) have had the opportunity to participate in a week-long Outward Bound course in the Mahoosic Mountains of Maine. (www.outwardbound.org) The course, which almost 400 Renaissance students have successfully completed over the last five years, serves as a signature coming of age experience for our new high school students. Together, they learn to use 21st century skills like teamwork, communication, problem-solving, taking initiative, and perseverance in an intense, unfamiliar environment. They return to Springfield with a lifetime’s worth of memories, a new and deeper appreciation for the comforts of home, and a renewed commitment to their shared goals and dreams.
Twice each year we stop “business as usual” and offer over three dozen (36) courses that allow students and teachers to deeply explore one particular area of interest or passion. The intensives last for 4-5 days, and culminate in an all-school performance. Courses offered this past December include Scrapbooking, Civil Rights Poetry Slam, Drawing like the Great Masters, and Survival: Who Lives? Who Dies?, and Why? Intensives allow a small school like us to offer to students the extended array of electives one might find at a larger, shopping mall high school. To date, we have hosted over four dozen visiting artists and experts and offered some 150 different Intensive courses.
As you can see, we are an ambitious school. And while we are proud of our students work and accomplishments, we are well aware that we are a work in progress and that there is always room for improvement. As a member of the Expeditionary Learning Schools network, and a Springfield Public Schools magnet school, we welcome and encourage folks to visit our school. I welcome you to join the dialogue and help us figure out how we can do a better job of working hard, being nice, and getting smart. Thank you and Si, se puede!