Match Tutoring In Lawrence

Last week I blogged:

More (high-dosage) tutoring proof points are on the way! Alan will lead a Match team in an ambitious effort this coming year to replicate those gains in a new urban district.

Well I can now "officially" share the news.

1. Our new collaboration will be in the Lawrence Public Schools. It's about 40 minutes outside Boston. From Wiki:

Europeans first settled the area in 1640. The site of the city – formerly parts of Andover and Methuen – was purchased in 1845 by a group of Boston industrialists headed by the wealthy merchant and congressman Abbott Lawrence, the community's namesake. The city was incorporated in 1853.

That's the postcard version.

This looks a bit more typical. Though you can see from the cars, the photo is circa 1980. (Richard Dragon -- can you give me an exact date based on the make/model?)

The state "took over" the district, because of corruption.

Here is a Boston Globe write-up from yesterday's front page:

Two other charter schools will also get involved in the system. MATCH Charter School in Boston will provide 50 tutors to two city high schools, while Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea will start an alternative high school targeting dropouts.

Such arrangements are at the forefront of an emerging movement of school districts working more cooperatively with charter schools across the country. Last year, the city of Boston signed a compact with the independently run charter schools in the city, pledging greater cooperation. Some city schools are already benefiting from partnerships, such as MATCH sending tutors to some Boston schools.

2. Will it work?

Yesterday the HISD Superintendent commented on this blog:

MATCH’s tutorial program rocks! Making huge difference in Houston. Arne should come down and take a look! – Terry Grier

Terry, thanks for the kind words.

I predict:

a: Lawrence's veteran math teachers will love this effort. Instead of them being expected to remediate massive deficiencies alone, they'll have a host of helpers, giving kids personalized attention in needed doses.

b: Many kids will, come end of year, describe tutoring as their favorite part of the day. Well, besides lunch, gym, dismissal.

c. Large, measurable gains in math achievement for 10th graders by August 2013.

3. Hiring!

We are hiring 50 smart, idealistic, relentless people to work full-time during the 2012-2013 school year.

The goal is to create a full-time, in-school, professional tutoring corps similar to what the Match Charter Public School has done in Boston since 2004, focused on math. The 50 tutors will serve 600 or so high school students in 2 traditional urban high schools.

4. Check out the 5-minute video below.

Fun cast of characters --

*Hannah, who describes what tutors mean to her as a teacher;

*Julio, a former tutor, now delaying med school to help Match on various projects;

*Torin, who's back from Peace Corps in Jordan and toiling away to get this rolling;

*Nedra, who runs our high school tutor corps and, as a former math teacher, knows what the program will do to help teachers in Lawrence;

*Antonio, a Match alum who is the director of the Lawrence effort.

This is a great gig, in particular for recent college grads who love math and would like to make a difference. If you know someone who should explore it, have them click here.

Huge congrats to Alan for getting this effort off the ground (he's been working tirelessly). And a big thank you to Jeff Riley, the superintendent there who is giving us a shot.

5. More Lawrence/Small World

By the way:

a. Phoenix, the CMO creating the alternative school for dropouts in Lawrence that is mentioned in the Globe article, is run by Beth Anderson. Beth used to be Alan's deputy director at Match.

And, if I recall, Beth introduced us to Meg and Sandy back in 2004. Meg taught English with us for 6 years and then was promoted to high school principal in 2010. Sandy was our stellar English teacher for many years before departing to West Coast. She now is joining Leadership Charter School in California.

Come to think of it: Sandy then mentored John Elder in 2008 when he was in Match Teacher Residency. John has since become the English department head over at Phoenix.

I noticed he recently wrote on Facebook (John, hope this is okay) a note to his mentor Sandy:

I honestly don't think a day of teaching goes by without me thinking of how much I owe you. Seriously, you're legit :)

See, small world?

Also, Liv, who is married to my colleague Randall, will run the new Lawrence school for Phoenix. Longtime readers of this blog will know Liv as the star of the Four Horsemen of Fixed Mindset videos. That video is now well-traveled in No Excuses charter circles.


*Community Day Charter School -- our partner on the elementary school we opened this fall -- will create a new in-district school with unionized teachers as part of the larger district improvement plan. So too will UP Academy.

Both are stellar operators who put teachers in a great position to succeed. In fact, my colleague Orin believes that UP may provide the best coaching to rookie teachers of everyone we know in the nation.

6. Fixing Lawrence!

Set aside school reform for a second.

There's a group of committed citizens trying to change the whole city.

By now you've probably heard about the Boston Magazine article: Lawrence' MA: City of the Damned and hopefully it made you as mad as it made me, the staff and Board of GWL, thousands of Lawrencians, and others that know and love this city. We all know that dwelling in anger is not healthy and as we are all working hard to ensure Lawrence is a healthy, thriving city, the community has come together to make sure that this type of cynical, one-sided, unfair article is no longer the story of the city.


The NY Times had a feature on this effort yesterday. It's here.

So bleak is Lawrence’s image that a recent article in Boston magazine, highlighting the city’s busy drug trade and controversial politics, proclaimed it to be the “most godforsaken place in Massachusetts.”

For many who live here, those were fighting words.

“I was shaking, scrambling to get my words together,” said Aliali Belkus, who grew up here and now teaches at Lawrence High School, describing her response to the magazine article. “Not because it wasn’t true, but because it was a very one-sided image of the city,” she continued. “We’ve become the punching bag.”

So on a recent Friday afternoon, several dozen residents gathered at a refurbished mill, ready to draw up a battle plan for a war of words and actions that they hope will help reshape Lawrence’s battered image.

“We need to be ready, willing and able,” Eduardo Crespo, a public relations professional and longtime resident, said to the diverse group. “Anyone for press releases? Community relations?”

The effort is an attempt to retell the city’s story as a tale of hope and success alongside its difficulties, using conventional public relations, social media and small civic projects. But the first challenge of the campaign, which is called We Are Lawrence, may be ensuring that its message resonates at home in the face of the city’s street-level reality.