Conversation About West Side Public Schools

On Tuesday, Feb 2, the WBNA hosted its first comprehensive meeting about our three neighborhood public elementary and middle schools. We had a great turnout of parents and community members, including teachers and staff from the 3 schools that were featured.

We heard presentations from Principals Denise Missry of Asa Messer Elementary School, Chris Kennedy of Carl Lauro Elementary School, and Bill Black of West Broadway Middle School. Janet Pichardo, head of the Providence Public School District's Family and Community Engagement Office, also shared ways that the community can help support public schools in the City.

The Principals shared inspiring stories of rising student achievement, special programs and partnerships that enrich teaching and learning, and of creating a culture of kindness and "being known" in each of the schools. These leaders shared about their schools with energy and passion that conveyed their dedication to and love of their work with children.

We learned that Asa Messer offers free Pre-K* – one of five total Pre-K programs offered in Providence schools – and that Carl Lauro is rolling out a new Dual Language Immersion Program in Spanish/English and in Mandarin/English for September 2016.** We learned about Asa Messer's partnership with Save the Bay and with Trinity Repertory, and about Lauro's intensive mentorship programs. And we learned that the traditional in-school enrichment options that many of us remember from our youth such as art and music still thrive at these schools.

After their presentations, the Principals were joined for a Q&A by several parents whose children attend west side schools, including the west side's own Councilman Bryan Principe.

One parent described how truly engaged his daughter (a Kindergartner) is with her learning at Asa Messer. This parent described the concerns he once had about short recess times and standardized testing but went on to say that these issues have become near non-issues due to his daughter's sheer excitement about school. "She's fully engaged. She's not missing out on anything. And we know as her parents to allow extra time for her to play and run around before and after school to make up for any loss in physical play time."

One question that was asked produced a unanimous response among panelists: "How would you answer a parent who asked 'why should I send my child to a Providence Public School'?" Principal Missry, whose two children both attend Providence Public Schools, picked up the microphone without hesitation and said, "I would say, 'Why not?'" Every panelist seconded her response.

WBNA's West Side Kids Committee plans to hold this event annually so that neighbors can meet the leaders and parents who are invested in our west side schools, and learn about what's happening inside our schools based on testimonies of the people who are attending and working in them.

* Asa Messer's Pre-K program is an integrated, inclusive program that requires a screening and application process. In order to schedule a screening appointment or to request more information, please call Mindy Mertz at 456-9100, extension 11325.

**Carl Lauro Elementary School's Dual Language Immersion Program will be offered to only Kindergartners at this time, as the program will be rolled out one grade level per year starting with K in September 2016. At the Registration Office, parents whose children will be Kindergarten age (5 years of age by September 1, 2016) can specify Carl Lauro Elementary Dual Language Program in either Spanish/English or Mandarin/English during the registration process. If there are more applicants than there are spots, a lottery will be held. Call PPSD's Registration Office at (401) 456-9297 for more information or visit them online.