Another West Side School Leader Gets Top Award

Principal Bill Black of West Broadway Middle School was awarded Rhode Island Outstanding First Year Principal by the Rhode Island Association of School Principals last Friday in a school-wide celebration that included students, teachers, Mayor Jorge Elorza, elected officials, and education leaders.

This is the second Principal of the Year recognition awarded to a west side educator this month. A few weeks ago, Denise Missry of Asa Messer Elementary School was honored as RI Elementary School Principal of the Year.

West Broadway Middle School was newly opened for the 2014-15 school year in the historic former West Broadway Elementary School building on Bainbridge Avenue. In only its second year of existence, WBMS has seen significant growth in student achievement, is a district leader in student growth in English and Math on local tests, and has one of the highest attendance rates – an indicator of positive school culture – among Providence middle schools.

Students First, Culture Always

Parents, students and teachers point to Principal Black's inspiring and tireless leadership as being at the core of West Broadway's rapid gains. This leadership has resulted in a team approach to teaching and learning, strong relationship-building between teachers and students and between administrators and staff, and a culture of collaboration and self-reflection at the school.

In a letter to the Providence Journal this week, 5th grade teacher Holland Landy celebrated Bill Black's recognition as Principal of the Year, citing that the school has wholly embraced its motto of "students first, culture always" and that Black is the reason West Broadway Middle School is "truly a great place to work and thrive."

Hello WBMS Family,
Thank you for another amazing week at West Broadway Middle School.
Your tireless work is helping OUR KIDS each day.....Thank you!
Have a great weekend.
Teach with Passion,

The above comes from an email distributed every Friday to faculty and staff by Principal Black in which he writes a summary of the week called "Friday Focus." This weekly recap highlights school-wide curricular initiatives and updates as well as a special appreciation for a member of the faculty or staff. In addition, every Sunday Black makes a comical yet pointed and inspirational short YouTube video for his staff about the upcoming week called "Sundays with Bill."

Community Matters

In early 2014 west side community leaders learned that the shuttered West Broadway Elementary School was being considered as a site for a new Providence middle school. A few months earlier the City and Providence Public School Department had announced that the District did not have enough middle school seats to accommodate graduating 5th graders for the following school year.

Councilman Bryan Principe hosted a neighborhood meeting where neighbors could voice their concerns, interests and ideas to Providence Public School administrators about the possible reopening of West Broadway Elementary as a middle school. Both Senator Paul Jabour and Representative John Lombardi were also heavily engaged in community discussions about reopening the school.

WBNA Executive Director Kari Lang asked school officials at the meeting if the community, which would be highly invested in the success of a new neighborhood public school, could have a seat at the planning table. A few weeks later, community members found themselves sitting with district leaders, advocating for quality leadership and teachers, and even giving input on classroom paint colors for the new school.

This school-community partnership continued beyond WBMS's start up phase. Caleb Borchers, Chair of the WBNA West Side Kids Committee, said that "from day one, engagement with the neighborhood has been a priority for the school. Before West Broadway Middle School even opened, Principal Black volunteered for WBNA events like the Block Party" and, Borchers continued, soon after the school year began, teachers began engaging in neighborhood activities and committees.

WBNA hosted its 2015 Annual Meeting at the new school – where neighbors enjoyed tours led by student guides – and sponsored West Broadway's basketball and cheerleading teams. Today the WBNA West Side Kids Committee continues to grow its relationship with WBMS, the goal being to strengthen these ties as well as those with our two public elementary schools – Asa Messer and Carl Lauro Elementary Schools – in the years to come.

Congratulations to Bill and the entire staff at West Broadway Middle School for the work and achievements they have accomplished in such a short time. WBNA looks forward to continuing to support our thriving west side public schools.

Providence educator honored as RI's Outstanding First-Year Principal, Providence Journal
Holland Landy: Providence principal richly deserves kudos for performance, Providence Journal