Simmons and the Boston Teachers Union lead first of its kind public school
Three years ago, Simmons College and the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) entered a partnership to create and maintain Boston's first public school managed by the teachers union.
The initiative, led by Education Professor Daren Graves, has given Simmons students, across disciplines, the opportunity to connect theory, practice, and community service. Now in it's third year, the teacher-led Union School has grown tremendously. We asked Professor Graves to update us on its progress.
- Q: Why did Simmons engage in this partnership?
- The partnership was initiated after a series of meetings in the Simmons Department of Education, where faculty expressed an interest in deepening our partnerships with schools that serve our neighbors.
We chose to partner with the BTU School because we knew it would be an opportunity to help build a school from its inception. We were also particularly drawn to working with the Union School because of its unique teacher-leader ethos.
- Q: How are students and professors across the College involved?
- We have education and social work student teachers/ interns working in the school; and we have student volunteers from Graduate School of Library and Information Science(GSLIS) and the Simmons Library who have helped us build the Union School library.
Faculty from the Department of Education, GSLIS, and social work have helped with various professional development efforts. The Scott/Ross Center for Community Service has also coordinated various student community service efforts at the Union School.
- Q: What is the benefit of Simmons' involvement in this partnership?
- I see the growth of our students through the improvements that we as faculty have made in response to our experiences at the Union School. Having had the opportunity to work with the staff, students, and families of the Union School has helped us as individual and collective faculty members build on our strengths, while transforming and re-imagining our own teaching and curriculum. That is the true beauty of this type of partnership. Everybody benefits.
In addition, the Union School and its community benefit from Simmons's resources and expertise. The Simmons faculty and staff benefit from embodying our ethos around connecting theory, practice, and service. The Simmons students benefit from the opportunities to serve and learn with our neighbors in Boston, as well as to reap the rewards of learning from faculty who are teaching from the experiences of working on the cutting edge of school reform and teacher education.
- Q: Since you've been involved with the school, what are your proudest moments?
- The school is only in its third year, so there is still much work to be done. The school has grown from a K-2 and 6th grade, to a K-4 and 6-8th grade, and will eventually be a full K-8 school next year. With this in mind, I know we in the Department of Education are particularly proud to see the school grow each year so that we have more teachers, children, and their families.
You can read more of Professor Daren Graves' interview in the fall 2011 issue of Simmons Magazine.