New Bedford Public Schools Accountability Data Shows Continued Progress

Two schools become Level 1 schools
Pulaski and Taylor named Commendation Schools
Improvement continues across the district
All three middle schools gaining ground


  • New Bedford Public Schools has three Level 1 schools, the first time since 2012 that two schools in New Bedford became Level 1.
  • Two schools that achieved Level 1 status, Casimir Pulaski and William H. Taylor, were named Commendation Schools.
  • Across the district, 16 schools showed improvement as they increased in their percentile rankings for student growth.
  • Keith, Roosevelt and Normandin middle schools all moved out of their past ranking in the 5th percentile.
  • Rankings are based on the performance of other schools with the same grade spans across Massachusetts.

New Bedford Public Schools showed continued progress and as part of that improvement, the district now has three schools – Pulaski, Swift and Taylor – designated as Level 1, the state’s highest accountability level. Pulaski and Taylor made major gains and rose in levels, while seven schools showed strong progress, and six showed moderate progress, a total of 16 schools improving in state percentile rankings

While the state ranks schools by accountability levels, 1 to 5, with Level 1 as its highest accountability level, all schools are also ranked by percentile. Percentile rankings show where schools are compared to other schools in their grade spans across the state based on student achievement and growth as measured by indicators including standardized test scores (e.g., a school in the 45th percentile is ranked higher than 45% of other schools with its grade spans in Massachusetts). Some schools may be designated in a higher percentile but also in a lower accountability level; this means that while they may be performing more strongly than they had been, they did not meet all goals that would move them into a higher accountability level.

Level 1 Schools: Pulaski, Taylor, and Swift

Casimir Pulaski School shifted significantly from a Level 3 school to a Level 1 school; William H. Taylor School moved from Level 2 into Level 1; and Jireh Swift School remained a Level 1 school. To increase in level as Pulaski and Taylor did, students must demonstrate growth by meeting goals set at the school level, including performance on standardized assessments; this ranking is also based on performance over four years.

Commendation Schools

Pulaski and Taylor were named Commendation Schools, the first New Bedford schools to receive this status since 2010. Commendation Schools are a select group of Level 1 schools recognized by the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. In New Bedford’s case, Taylor was recognized for its high progress and Pulaski was recognized for high progress and for narrowing the proficiency gap for all students in all areas.

All Three Middle Schools Improve Percentile Rankings

The city’s middle schools, all three of which were ranked in the 5th percentile statewide in 2014, have improved in their percentile rankings and have all moved out of the bottom 5th percent:

Progress Across the District

With the 16 New Bedford schools that increased their percentile ranking, approximately 8,330 students attending these schools are now outperforming more of their academic peers from across the state than they had been in 2014.

Schools whose percentile rankings increased include: Elizabeth Carter Brooks School; Sgt. William H. Carney Academy; James B. Congdon School; John B. DeValles School; Alfred J. Gomes School; John Hannigan School; Ellen R. Hathaway School; Keith Middle School; Abraham Lincoln School; Normandin Middle School; Casimir Pulaski School; Thomas R. Rodman School; Roosevelt Middle School; Jireh Swift School; William H. Taylor School; and Betsey B. Winslow School.

The Sgt. William H. Carney Academy increased to the 50th percentile, previously remaining consistently stagnant in the 42nd and 43rd percentiles for years; Carney has now attained the highest percentile in the district.

School districts who took the PARCC assessment this year were subject to a ‘held harmless’ clause from the DESE, meaning that schools whose percentiles dropped would not be considered for being moved down by accountability levels.

“The news of the state’s accountability report affirms the work that staff and students across our district are doing,” said Dr. Durkin. “These improved rankings are our stories of success – at our three Level 1 schools, a rise in percentile rank at all three middle schools, strong growth at four elementary schools and increases at six other elementary schools. Like the results of our PARCC assessment, these rankings show that our students can succeed and that we are building an excellent school system for all kids in New Bedford.”

“We remain concerned about Level 4 school Hayden-McFadden as it is in year four of the transformation school improvement model, and we will be carefully reviewing how we are working there so that we can reset the conditions that will lead to much stronger, accelerated progress,” she added. “New Bedford High School, in its first year of turnaround, is moving ahead in ensuring the supports in place are being utilized to their fullest extent. John Avery Parker School has adjusted the models for how staff is serving students and is on the right track toward progress for every Parker scholar.”

“These results reflect real progress in our schools. Much work remains, but it’s clear that the administration and teachers are moving the New Bedford Public Schools in the right direction,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell.

St. James-St. John integrating education and religious study in an exemplary way

For much of the population there isn’t much to decide when it comes to education for our kids – they are sent to the public school in their neighborhood or locale. There is a smaller portion of parents will consider private or charter schooling as an alternative. For Catholics, however, they have these two and a third option: parochial schooling.

Why should a parent consider sending their child or children to a Catholic School? What are the differences among public, private and Catholic schools in terms of curriculum, staff and performance? Will it hinder or benefit my child? Choosing an education for your children can be one of the most daunting tasks a parent can encounter. It sets a compass needle providing much needed direction; it paves a foundation that will last a lifetime. It will heavily impact their future and even subsequent generations.

The educators are a passionate, experienced lot that are pleased to be role models.

Catholic Schools, of course, supply a solid foundation in academics, music and arts. Properly preparing a child to enter society with all the necessary social skills and academic understanding they need to navigate their way through life is something public, private and parochial schools do. How Catholic Schools differ is that they focus on nurturing the Catholic identity and faith. There is an extra element or layer to the education at a parochial school: developing spiritually. This is done by making religious education a core subject of the curriculum, as well as interspersing prayer and liturgical life.

The religious program is provided from Bishop to teacher. The teachers then contribute their own planning and teaching aspect to the lessons. The Catholic Church has had some astounding success with education and today operates the world’s largest non-governmental school system with over two million students in the U.S. alone.

Statistics show that students vote more, are more tolerant and civically engaged than their public peers. Minorities that attend Catholic schools have had greater success in graduating both high school and college – due to the lessened aspect of social class effects in the school environment. Regardless of ethnicity and household income, all students are treated equally as God’s children.

St. James-St. John School is a New Bedford Catholic School that exemplifies the ideals of the Catholic Church’s education ministry. They offer a safe, Catholic educational environment rooted in Gospel values and provide rigorous, quality, faith-filled education for grades Pre-K through 8th. Their students achieve their full potential both academically and spiritually through shared learning experiences in social justice, morality, and faith. Principal Cristina Raposo and pastors, Fr. Jack Oliveira and Fr. Craig Pregana have successfully integrated religion with education. The students learn to discover God’s presence in their daily lives and appreciate the value of that relationship through the good and inevitable bad moments of life.

St, James-St.John has creative ways to keep the students engaged.

This is nothing new for St. James-St.John – they’ve been a parochial “school” in New Bedford for well over a century. I place school in parenthesis because it is the unification of two schools. Beginning in 1885 as St. Mary School (on Acushnet Avenue and Wing Street), they would become St. James’s School – the parish they were associated with – in 1964. In 1941, the other half, St. John’s Academy opened in the former Grinnell Mansion on County Street.

In 1973, the two schools would merge into one and relocate to the former St. James building on Acushnet Avenue. In 1986 they again relocated to their current location at 180 Orchard Street.

Ms. Raposo feels it is she who is blessed to “..be able to share in the lives of these young people and be able to model and instruct in the teachings of Jesus everyday. My hope is to one day touch their lives in a special way.” She won’t have to hope too much, because when I asked the students and parents to volunteer to share their experiences, I was inundated with anecdotes. I actually had to prune some for the article. There were that many.

Her most memorable moment was having a post-graduate student thank her and let her know that she was a role model and someone they strove to be everyday. High praise indeed. “I was so touched and honored and knew at that time, I was where I was, not because it was my job, but my vocation and a place where God had led me.”

Some of the academic offerings include Pre-K and up activities like reading with phonics, BBC programs and more. Social studies include politics, the world atlas, ancient civilizations, history, and National Geographic. There’s math, geology, weather, art, science fair projects, research and citation help, and an “All About Animals” program.

Though the curriculum is Common Core aligned, the teachers have academic freedom and do not need to spend their time teaching to the test. Furthermore, if the students leave St.James-St.John and take MCAS and other exams, they are well prepared.

Certainly a diverse and rich academic profile.

There are dozens of reasons you see so many smiling faces in these photos!

Catholic Schools are typically steeped in community activity and St. James-St. John School is extraordinarily busy in that sense. One of the best ways to to teach kids to be civically active and engaged is to lead by example. The school has worked closely with Pennies for Patients, the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, the Juvenile Diabetes, Alzheimer Association, Food Pantries, the Donovan House, Catholic Social Services, Habitats for Cats, Ovarian Cancer, Veterans Transition House just to name a few.

St. James-St.John is an experienced, trusted institute that is consistently doing what they do best: lead the way in religious based education. They do this exceedingly well as demonstrated by the many volunteers – parents and students – who eagerly provided testimonials. Testimonials that “say” much more than anything that I can type. While browsing the photo gallery, you’ll notice children smiling in almost every photo – another demonstration of the school’s success.

If you’re considering enrolling your child in parochial school, and want passionate, spiritually minded educators who are genuinely dedicated to their academic, mental, social, and physical well-being, you will be overjoyed to discover St. James-St.John has been doing that for 120 years and is still doing that today, with an eye on the future.

Starting in 1885 teaching only 1st and 2nd grades. St. James-St.John has evolved into a large school that teaches from PK-8th grade.

“We’ve been part of the St. James St. John family since 2010. I can’t say enough about how great our experience has been so far! Our daughters absolutely love their school and are always learning something new. The faculty does a great job of communicating with parents and setting clear expectations of the students. The fact that there is a full time nurse is an added benefit that many other schools do not have. Nurse Ana takes excellent care of the students and provides them with plenty of useful education. Overall, we’re entirely pleased with the decision to send our daughters to this school! – Jeff & Shonda Escobar, parents of Hannah (Grade 3) & Leah (Grade 1).

“My children have attended SJSJ school since preschool. Our plan was to have them there only through Kindergarten. However, after a very short time we realized that we wanted them to continue on throughout elementary and middle school. SJSJ is a family. The faculty and staff are dedicated and vested in providing each child with a first class education and a spiritual foundation. As an educator myself, I know my children are being challenged academically. As a parent, it makes my life easier knowing that they love their school. SJSJ provided the safe, nurturing environment we wanted for our children. It was a perfect fit.” – Lina Louro-Cunha

“Over the past ten years my children have called Saint James Saint John their home. As a family we are constantly amazed at the endless warmth and support from all faculty and staff at our school. There is a family atmosphere that pervades the school with a strong focus on faith, learning, achievement, growth and accountability.”
Terry Wolkowicz, Parent of Justin and Aria.

“Thank you so much for an amazing year. Isabel and I are so lucky to have St. James St. John’s school in our children’s lives, I truly have no words to fully express the gratitude that Isabel and I have for the Love, Patience, Kindness and a priceless education our children receive there. I hope you have an awesome and safe summer. God bless.”

Thomas D. Consoli
Property Services Manager
Sea-Dar Construction

St. James-St.John School has a well rounded curriculum that includes religious study, academics, music and art.

“I just wanted to let you know that we are so pleased with St. James St. John and wish we had moved Ryan earlier. You have a great group of parents, teachers and students. We feel Ryan has really thrived and is very prepared for highschool. Thank you so much for allowing him to go to your school.” – Janice Carrigg

“What makes St. James St.John school different from the rest is the teachers. The teachers at this school encourage us to do our best and help us when we need it.” – Myra Wong, student.

“What I find most special about St. James St. John School is its ability act not only as a school, but as a home – where you learn new things with your family each day. It’s very rare to find a school where friendships have been formed over a course of ten years, to a point in which you can call your peers family.” -Josh Downey, student

“St. James St. John School is special because of the bond that all of the students have. The school is like a family brought together by the kindness that each student shows to one another and the support we receive from our teachers and staff.” – Brendan Rego, student.

“I wouldn’t want to be at any other school other than St James St John, because the students and teachers feel like family” – Victoria Raposo, student.

“Our school prepares every student to succeed in the future, both academically and spiritually.” -James Dee, student.

“What makes St. James St. John School special is the nice family-friendly environment that the school provides to students and their parents. Another thing that makes St. James St. John special is that every student feels like they belong in his or her class.” -Patrick Vescio, student ambassador.

“Saint James Saint John School… Living and learning through Christ.” – Faith Medieros, student.

“When I walk through the doors of St. James St. John it feels like your walking into family.” Emilia Costa, student.

“I like St. James St. John because of how we are all one family and how you can easily make friends with students, teachers, and staff. “ – Gilbert Souza, student.


St. James-St. John School
Mon-Fri: 8:00 am-2:30 pm
Phone: (508) 996-0534
Email: principal@sjsjschool.com

Facebook: facebook.com/pages/St-James-St-John-School
Photo Stream: facebook.com/St-James-St-John-School/photos_stream
Website: sjsjschool.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/sjsjschool
Instagram: instagram.com/sjsjschool

Public Schools Kindergarten Registration – Las Matrículas de Kindergarten – Iniciarão as Matrículas do Jardim-Escola

Located in Room 105 of the Paul Rodrigues Administration Building at 455 County Street.


New Bedford Public Schools will begin kindergarten registration for September 2015 in March at the Family Welcome Center, located in Room 105 of the Paul Rodrigues Administration Building at 455 County Street.

Registration is by appointment only; appointments have started and can be booked for between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. To set an appointment, contact the Family Welcome Center at 508-997-4511 ext. 3275 or ext. 3418.

Children must be present at the time of registration as they will take a short screening test. In order to register for the 2015-2016 kindergarten year, children must be five years old before September 1, 2015.

Registration Requirements

Several documents are required in order to register children for kindergarten:

  • Birth certificate (for children born in the United States)
  • Birth certificate and/or passport (for children born in a country other than the U.S.)
  • Immunization records, including proof of lead screening, with date and results
  • A physical examination is required of all children within 12 months prior to kindergarten entry OR 30 days after the start of school
  • Parent/guardian identification (driver’s license, picture ID, passport)
  • Copy of IEP or 504 plan if applicable
  • Legal papers demonstrating guardianship if applicable
  • Proof of current address (two of the following: purchase and sales agreement, notarized rental or lease agreement, property tax receipt, utility bill, cable bill, telephone bill, bank statement with parent/guardian name and address, pay stub with home address)

“Kindergarten is an important milestone in the education of every child,” said Superintendent Pia Durkin. “We value the involvement of all our families at this exciting time in their child’s education, and we look forward to seeing our families for kindergarten registration.”


Las Escuelas Públicas de New Bedford comenzarán las matrículas de kindergarten para las clases que enpienzan en septiembre del 2015 en el mes de marzo.

El lugar de matrícula es el Centro de Bienvenida a las Familiar, Oficina 105 en el Edificio de Administración Paul Rodrigues, 455 County Street.

La matrícula es por cita solamente. Las citas se harán empezando el mes de febrero. Horas de matrículas de kindergarten son 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Por favor llame a la oficina al 508-997-4511, Ext. 3275 o Ext. 3418 para hacer una cita.

Los niños deberán estar presentes al momento de la matrícula ya que tomarán una prueba. Los niños deben de tener cinco años antes del primero de septiembre para así poder ser matriculados en el kindergarten en el año escolar 2015-2016.

Requisitos de Inscripción

  • Se requieren los siguientes documentos con el fin de inscribir a su hijo/a para el kindergarten:
  • Certificado de nacimiento para los niños nacidos en los Estados Unidos
  • Certificado de nacimiento y/o pasaporte para los niños nacidos en un país que no sea los Estados Unidos
  • Registros de Inmunización, incluyendo la prueba de detección de plomo con la fecha y los resultados
  • Se requiere un examen físico de todos los niños dentro de los 12 meses anteriores al ingreso a Kindergarten o 30 días después de ingresar a la escuela
  • Licencia de conducir /iIdentificación con foto para la prueba de identidad
  • Copia del IEP o Plan 504 si es aplicable
  • Los documentos que demuestran la tutela o custodia legal si es applicable
  • Prueba de la dirección de donde vive (Qualquier de los dos que se enumeran a continuación: acuerdo de compra y venta; contrato notarizado de alquiler /renta, recibo de impuesto de la propied, factura de servicios públicos, factura del cable, factura del teléfono, cuenta bancaria con el nombre y dirección del padre/madre/guardián legal, desprendible del recibo del salario mensual con dirección de la casa)

“Kindergarten es un acontecimiento importante en la educación de todos los niños,” dijo la Superintendente Pia Durkin. “Valoramos la participación de todas nuestras familias en este momento emocionante en la educación de sus hijos, y estamos ansiosos por ver a nuestras familias durante las matrículas del kindergarten.”


As Escolas Públicas de New Bedford iniciarão as matrículas do Jardim-escola para Setembro, 2015 no mês de Março. O local das matrículas é no Centro de Boas Vindas às Famílias, Escritório 105, Edifício de Administração Paul Rodrigues, 455 County Street.

As matrículas serão feitas só através de hora marcada. Poderá marcar hora começando no mês de Fevereiro. Horas de matrículas do Jardim-escola são 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Por favor telefone para o escritório, número (508)997-4511, Ext. 3375 ou Ext. 3418 para marcar uma hora.

As crianças deverão estar presentes na altura da matrícula porque terão que fazer uma avaliação. As crianças deverão ter feito cinco anos antes do dia 1 de Setembro para que se possam matricular para o Jardim-escola do ano 2015-2016.

Requisitos para a Inscrição

Os documentos mencionados abaixo são necessários para registrar a sua criança para o Jardim-escola:

  • Certidão de nascimento para as crianças nascidas nos Estados Unidos
  • Certidão de nascimento e/ou passaporte para as crianças nascidas num país que não seja os Estados Unidos
  • Registros de imunização, incluindo prova do teste de chumbo com resultados e data
  • Um exame físico é exigido de todas as crianças dentro de 12 meses antes de entrar no Jardim-escola ou 30 dias após o ingresso na escola
  • Licença de motorista / Identificação com foto para prova de identidade
  • Cópia do IEP ou Plano 504 quando aplicável
  • Documentos legais que demonstram a tutela ou guarda legal
  • Prova de endereço corrente (Qualquer de dois mencionados abaixo: contrato de compra e vendas, contrato de aluguer /renda com assinatura reconhecida, recibo de imposto sobre a propriedade, conta dos serviços públicos (utilidades), conta da televisão por cabo, conta do telefone, extrato de conta do banco com o nome e endereço do pai/mãe/tutor legal, recibo de pagamento com o endereço residencial)

“O Jardim-escola constitui um marco importante na educação de todas as crianças,” disse a Superintendente Pia Durkin. “Nós valorizamos o envolvimento de todas as nossas famílias neste momento emocionante na educação dos seus filhos, e estamos ansiosos por ver as nossas famílias durante as matrículas para o Jardim-escola.”

The “Z’s” inspired “School Time Performances” combines powerful, moving performances with educational content

The Zeiterion’s popular community based, educational School Time Performances reaches 36,000 school children and educators!

The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, known colloquially as “the “Z,” is well established for attracting world-class performers and performances to their venue and orchestrating fascinating, interesting and compelling content. Anything associated with the “Z,” is by default, guaranteed to be superlative in nature. It’s what they do. Who they are.

So, it should come as no surprise that the Zeiterion’s “Arts In Education” program carries equal weight. With an eye on community and the objective of making an impressive 2/3 of the Zeiterion’s programming educational or community based, the “Z” hopes to inspire local youth and enrich their lives through the arts. The Arts In Education’s curriculum-based “School Time Performance” programs provide a fantastic opportunity to do just that!

These theatrical, dance or musical offerings are of the same high quality that you have come to expect with the adult programs. The performances are carefully picked to be so compelling that captivating the minds of the spectators is done effortlessly.

Reaching 36,000 school children and teachers annually, the “Z” offers more than two dozen performances which will tantalize and engage children from kindergarten to 12th grade. The appropriately dubbed “School Time Performances” take place during regular school hours and take place either at the Zeiterion or by bringing the performances directly to your school via mini-performances, workshops/residencies and/or theatre-prep visits.

Guaranteed to engage, excite and enthrall. You can’t fake responses like this!

The in-school workshops/residencies are effective ways to deepen the student’s understanding of the arts in general and the subject matter specifically – all the while enhancing the theatrical experience. A crucial and integral aspect of the program is to fire up these young minds by engaging the kids – not piling them into seats in a passive capacity, then riding off into the proverbial sunset.

Indeed, many of the performances have pre and post-performance discussions – an informal interaction whereby the students explore themes and gain special insight into various aspects of performing arts. The interaction and greater intimacy lend themselves to a deep rapport between the students, performers, and their companies.

In addition, there are professional development workshops for the teachers who desire integrating arts into the classroom core curriculum. Furthermore, the Z offers on-line curriculum guides for teachers who wish to make these performances as meaningful as possible. Using a variety of topics, discussion points, resource materials and classroom activities, the curriculum guides, allow the interested students to really dig into the performances and topics in detail and depth. One does not have to put a stop to the topic after a performance ends.

Cementing the Z’s dedication to fulfilling the aforementioned objectives, they provide a number of resources to help in funding tickets, transportation, and costs for these programs. There is a genuine desire to bring the benefits and opportunities that performance arts provide to the South Coast’s school children.

Two performances in particular that I would like to showcase are Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and Nazi Hunter: Simon Wiesenthal – The Conscience of the Holocaust performed by Tom Dugan.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – a verbatim perfomance about 7 years spent in a crawl space.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a slave narrative by Harriet Jacobs. Jacob’s powerful and often shocking autobiography details her life born into slavery in 19th century America. Born in North Carolina in 1813, Jacob’s life is a testament to endurance and perseverance in the face of darkness and tribulation. The 50 minute performance sheds light on the seven years she spent hiding in a crawl space in her grandmother’s attic.

There are no props, no set, no gimmicks – just a moving performance. Done verbatim, the solo piece is one that will certainly have a powerful, lasting sympathetic effect on all those who observe it. In addition, the pre and post-show discussion will deepen the student’s understanding of the dark period of America’s history and more importantly will explore themes of resilience, survival and human spirit.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl takes place at the New Bedford Whaling Museum Theater on March 11 & 12 and is suggested for grades 7th-12th.

The story of Simon Wiesenthal – Holocaust Surivivor, Nazi Hunter, Persoanlity.

Nazi Hunter: Simon Wiesenthal – The Conscience of the Holocaust is another solo performance about perseverance in the face of a dark period in history: The Holocaust. Jewish-Austrian Simon Wiesenthal, was studying at university in Poland at the outbreak of World War II where he was placed in a Jewish ghetto – a neighborhood where people were often enclosed, movement was monitored, and basic rights were stripped.

Within months Wiesenthal was sent to forced labor in a number of Nazi concentration camps from 1941-1945 until his liberation by Americans on May 5th 1945 – weighing a shocking 90lbs. Wiesenthal then spent the remainder of his life hunting Nazis and war criminals, bringing an estimated 1,100 of them to justice.

Actor Tom Dugan captures the personality – particularly the wit and humor – of Wiesenthal and threads it throughout his performance which will enthrall everyone.

Nazi Hunter: Simon Wiesenthal – The Conscience of the Holocaust takes places at the Zeiterion on April 16th.

These two special installments in the Z’s “School Time Performances” are just a small example of the many fascinating topics covered. You can get much more than a glimpse, by visiting the Zeiterion’s dedicated page which not only incudes more information about the Performances, In-School Workshops & Residencies, but has the 2014–2015 School Time Brochure (can also be downloaded), a FAQ, directions, resources on grant opportunities, and all of the curriculum guides.

Zeiterion Performing Arts Center
684 Purchase Street
New Bedford, MA 02740
Phone: (508) 994-2900
E-mail: info@zeiterion.org
Facebook: facebook.com/zeiteriontheatre

South Coast Music Together shares powerful, positive stories from real people! Fall 2014 Schedule and Registration NOW OPEN!

Real stories from real people from the South Coast!

Did you see our spotlight on South Coast Music Together last March? South Coast Music Together is a music and movement program for children, from birth to six, and their caregivers. Weekly classes meet – starting September 17th – for forty-five minutes of musical play, using songs families learn over the ten week session. Each enrolled family receives an illustrated songbook, a CD, and a MP3 download of the songs included in each session’s curriculum, as well as access to the, Music Together Family Zone, via www.musictogether.com.

In March we looked at the broad benefits movement and music brings to lives regardless of age, and how it can significantly enrich the lives of children during the crucial, early developmental stages. In this article we would like to focus on a particular fringe benefit of music creation, in the family and community setting. We discussed the many benefits that movement and music bring to lives regardless of age, but more importantly highlighted how it can enrich the lives of our children early on in the crucial developmental stages.

One facet of early childhood development is bonding. Bonding with parents, and other caregivers, parents and caregivers bonding with their babes, siblings bonding with siblings, and creating bonds of friendship, as we grow. Music is a great facilitator for creating strong, warm, bonds. When we sing together, we breath together, our hearts even synchronize to beat together. Our stress hormones drop, and our “feel good” hormones rise. We have a real physical response to creating music together, which enhances warm feelings towards our own families, and those within our musical community. This is what families do in a South Coast Music Together class; they foster the bonds of family, and community music making, and in so doing strengthen the bonds of the community as a whole

It is one thing to read or hear about these benefits, and another to actually hear from folks in the community. Since that article, many people have taken some of these fantastic workshops and classes that are offered and the impact has been powerful enough that they wished to share their stories.

Story #1: Jax bonds with his baby brother, with his favorite lullaby, learned in his South Coast Music Together classes. Jax knows this lullaby so well, because his mom and dad sang it to him over and over, and now he shares it with his newborn bro!

Story #2: Isaac sings, Hello Everybody, to all the IMPORTANT people in his life, Daddy, Mommy, and big sis too!

Story#3:Though in this clip Jakub is singing, Hello Everybody, his mom’s quote tells of the love he expresses, when they make music together.

“By the way, we were playing MARACAS this afternoon. When the “Russian Folk Song” came on, J. came up to me, gave me a hug and started rubbing my back! He has also been singing the tonal patterns to the faucet in the tub, pretending it’s a microphone. Thank you, SCMT!!”

-Urszula Andrade, Dartmouth

Story #4: And, this family… well, this mom’s words say it all.

I can’t even begin to express what an amazing gift (South Coast) Music Together has been to our family! Music has always been a big part of my life and of course I wanted it to be for my daughter, too. From the moment we started classes when she was just learning to sit up on her own, til now when she is entering preschool for the first time, music class has always been a highlight in our lives.

One big community!

She has learned about beat and rhythm, melody and harmony, lyrics and the creativity to improvise, gained new friends, socialized and observed. I have gained a whole new understanding of child development and growth and marveled at the beauty of a child discovering a passion for music and having a carefree spirit. The classes have not only taught us wonderful songs that will be favorites for a lifetime but also created a special time for us to share and bond and connect in a way that can only be expressed through song!

I am so appreciative of Rhonda who is an extraordinary teacher with a special gift of music and communication and understanding of children. And also Coleen who we met this year who has a special gift as well! I would highly recommend anyone to step into the world of Music Together and create long lasting memories! Thank you for being a part of our lives and I continue to look forward to more classes!

-Tracie Lord

With four locations in the area – New Bedford (Wamsutta Club), Tiverton (Sandywoods Farm), Padanaram (St. Peter’s Episcopal Church), and Marion (The Yoga Loft) – there is a facility near you so you can also experience what Music Together has to offer. Interested in more testimonials? You can browse their Facebook Page’s reviews here. Music Together are not only pioneers, but their music program is internationally recognized. There are 2500 locations in over 40 countries! You can register and see the 2014 Fall Schedule here.

To find out more about the programs, you can read March’s article which is accompanied with fantastic footage and images or even better contact Rhonda directly by using the information below. To register straight away go here.

South Coast Music Together
PO Box 382
Westport, Massachusetts 02791
Phone: 508-636-7426, 508-493-0355
E-mail: Rkhowarth1@yahoo.com or southcoastmt@verizon.net
Website: musictogether.com/
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/South-Coast-Music-Together/59709212336

Other Services Offered:

Children’s Singing Circle is for children ages 4.9 to nine: This class continues where South Coast Music Together leaves off and is designed to be a bridge between non-formal music education and formal music education. We continue to explore musical concepts through play, but our play becomes slightly more focused on specific concepts in any given class. Children this age still benefit greatly from caregiver modeling, so caregivers join us for the first ten minutes and the last ten minutes of our hour long class. Younger siblings may attend with their caregiver at this time too. Caregivers are asked to volunteer to be an on site chaperone one week out of the eight week session.

FirstSounds: private prenatal music coaching: “When is the best time to begin a child’s music education? Nine months before the birth of the mother!” Zoltan Kodaly. This sentiment is precisely what we explore in the FirstSounds class. We know that babies hear sounds outside of the womb by the sixteenth week of gestation. There are volumes of research stating that bonding begins in the womb and using music to develop that bond is profoundly powerful. In a FirstSounds class mother, father, sibling or grandparent will sing, move to music, play instruments and learn about tactile stimulation, all with the focus connecting to baby. Songs that babies hear in the womb soothe and comfort them after birth, so begin singing those lullabies now!

Special Events: “In house” musical field trips for early childhood facilities, including preschools, daycares, and elementary schools.

Professional Development for Early Childhood Educators: Helping childcare workers identify ways to use music to enhance their caregiving: creating community within their classroom, easing transitions, teaching cognitive skills, enriching fine and gross motor skills, expanding vocabulary, developing multicultural awareness, and a host of other benefits.

South Coast Singing Circle Birthday Parties: 35-40 minutes of interactive music making. We sing, play instruments, and move to music, together. SCSC brings instruments, and props, making the experience a playful, and memorable one. The music making is interactive, not just a “performance” by music leader. All SCSC music specialist are trained to work with children, and facilitate playful music making. Link to the Birthday Party .pdf http://southcoastmt.com/vlt8140.htm

Singing Circle Workshops: Group singing has been a mainstay in communities since the beginning of the human race. Join your voice with others and feel the strength and support community music making can bring. Learn songs by ear, no prior musical training necessary, and let your spirit soar along with your voice. Learn a bit about vocal health, singing in a group, harmony and more, but mostly come and have fun in a community of music makers.

Sing Alongs for Elders: A cappella sing alongs for seniors citizens. Using familiar songs residence of assisted living facilities, senior housing facilities, and nursing homes, come together to engage in musical creation. Singing provides social interactions, enhances mood, improves memory recall, enhances balance, improves breathing, and a host of other skills beneficial to those who may be less physically active, but still benefit from physical activity.

Going back to school mania! Some helpful tips…

Need some helpful tips on prepping the kids for school?

The fliers are out, the store isles are full of school supplies, and the commercials are in full swing. No matter what your age is you’ve become acutely aware that summer is ending. As with any parent at this time of year the task of preparing your child for school is upon you. But while you’re buying folders, pencils and backpacks you may be missing one back to school necessity….your child’s personal readiness.

School can be a source of stress and mentally exhausting. The beginning of the school year can be a shock factor after a lazy summer to your child’s physical and emotional state. It’s our obligation to them to not just let them adapt when school starts to a new morning routine but to start beforehand. Afterall, it’s not just making sure your child is up in time for school but to make sure they are up and ready to learn. If you haven’t started already, get your child into the school routine. Set a bedtime and stick with it no matter their age and objections.

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” -Benjamin Franklin

From preschool age to tweens, children require 10-12hrs of sleep. Teenagers need around 9hrs, although some impersonate hibernating bears pretty darn well. Establishing a healthy nighttime routine and morning routine is beneficial towards your child’s academic success. It’s better that your child starts each morning with a healthy breakfast (not much of a morning appetite? Nutritional drink mixes, cereal bars, even a good trail mix). Get them up in time to eat, brush their teeth, wash their face (or as we call it “wake up your face”) and get dressed. Express the importance of self-confidence. “Did you brush your hair? Check yourself in the mirror? You look like a million bucks”! In a perfect world, if you had the time and ability to go for a morning walk with your child that would be great. Healthy body, healthy mind. Even morning stretches would be beneficial. Set some more personal routines such as making their bed, putting dishes in the sink. For younger children setting out a morning checklist is great to establish good habits.

Your kids will be chasing the school bus before you know it!

Nighttime habits that make school a little easier are not only getting to bed early but incorporating taking a shower and bath (great for younger children as it tends to help them sleep). Start putting your next day outfit together and out on the dresser ready for the morning. During school, help your child have their backpack all set the night before each school day and put it at a set place maybe by the door.

“Did you wash up and brush your teeth? Is your outfit all set for tomorrow and everything fits okay? Backpack all set?”

A checklist can be really helpful. You have your own set routines, it’s time to make things easier on everyone by establishing some for your school age child.

To help make sure your child is mentally ready for school brush up on what they did last year, play to their strengths. If they’ve had a pretty lax summer and haven’t pulled out this seemingly foreign instrument otherwise known as a pencil, you might want to reintroduce it. From writing their name, the alphabet, writing about their summer or letters to their friends, to doing math.. All these things help get them ready for school. If last year they were working on multiplication and division brush up on addition and subtraction right now. It’s mastering the foundation that enables them to really conquer work as it progresses in difficulty.

“My grade school/middle school child can do basic math!” That’s great! Can they answer long ‘simple math’ questions quickly?


Make it fun! Brush up those skills and their self esteem while you’re at it. Positive reinforcement WORKS! While you are back to school shopping have your child at any age help you. If they are young but learning numbers give them a calculator “press number 5” and have them find isle numbers. If they are older and think they know it all, have them prove it and tell them how much you are spending, what the taxes are and tell them how many things you plan on getting. “We’re picking out three outfits and spending X amount, no asking” Can I get this?”, YOU tell me if we can afford on our budget.”

If your child is entering a new school it’s a good idea to visit it beforehand. Walk around the exterior, play on the playground or check out the track. If you’re lucky maybe they’ll be someone in the office and you can ask to tour it with your child. Help them feel familiar to take away the shock of a new setting. Talk about how a school day goes and if they’re older and have a locker, explain how to be ready to exchange items in-between classes and how to set aside books etc. they want to take home at the end of the day. Should your child be in High School have an open dialogue on what they want to accomplish and transition into after High School.

Make it fun! Brush up those skills and their self esteem while you’re at it

When school starts I encourage you to be as involved as you can be. Talk with your child’s new teacher to give them some insight on your child. If they are shy, anxious, easily distracted, let them know what works best at home to overcome these challenges. If you found the last school year to be very difficult for your child address these concerns as early as possible, so you and your child’s teacher and/or guidance counselor can make their school year more productive. This could mean setting up an Individual Education Plan or IEP. There is no shame in getting help and ever child should not have to worry they are not good enough to do well in school and to feel like a failure. School shouldn’t be a place of solid stress.

A student should feel a rewarding triumph in their accomplishments and have the resources to make them happen. This starts at home….but it doesn’t end there.

New enrichment academy aims to prepare local English Language Learners for college and career success

Grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education funded program for middle and high school ELL students during out-of-school time.

New Bedford Public Schools has launched a new enrichment academy designed to help English Language Learners establish and achieve college and career goals. The ELL Alternative and Accelerated Language Development Program began this spring through a $135,000 Gateway Cities grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education.

Approximately 30 middle and high school students from across the district are participating in the program, which was held on 10 Saturdays at New Bedford High School. Students also participated in the program for three days during April vacation, and the program will continue this summer.

The program is operated by staff from the New Bedford Public Schools, other districts, the Immigrantsʼ Assistance Center, and Northstar Learning Center. Educators support students – some of whom are new to the United States – in learning English, with a focus on developing cademic vocabulary. The program also emphasizes college and career readiness, including parent and student visits to college campuses to learn about college admissions, financial aid, and more.

ELL students in grades 7-12 at any New Bedford Public School may apply for the summer program, which will be held at the Roosevelt Middle School, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 12 noon, from July 7-31. To apply, please call Sonia Walmsley at (508) 997-4511 ext. 3315 or 3333.

The program emphasizes family engagement, including ongoing communication with parents about studentsʼ progress. The summer program will culminate with an intercultural arts performance for families, in which students will demonstrate their academic learning and celebrate their heritage through music, dance, and theater.

“This is exactly the sort of innovation we need to ensure the success of all students,” said Dr. Pia Durkin, Superintendent of the New Bedford Public Schools. “We are very proud of this new initiative to provide English Language Learners with additional support and encouragement to succeed after high school.”

Sonia Walmsley, Implementation Manager for Quality Services for ELLs, said, “Our hope is that this program is only the beginning of a successful and supportive tool to improve the academic achievement of ELLs in the New Bedford Public Schools.”

Ms. Walmsley stated that the district plans to apply for additional State funding to continue the program in the fall.

Mayor Mitchell Honors Top Ten New Bedford High School Graduating Seniors

This year marks the second annual Mayor’s List Awards in celebration of the outstanding academic achievements of the top ten graduating seniors at New Bedford High School

At a ceremony held in the New Bedford Art Museum on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, Mayor Jon Mitchell presented the top ten academically ranked seniors in the New Bedford High School graduating class of 2014 with the Mayor’s List Awards. The students are scheduled to graduate from New Bedford High School on this evening.

This year marks the second annual Mayor’s List Awards in celebration of the outstanding academic achievements of the top ten graduating seniors at New Bedford High School. The awards ceremony was also an opportunity to learn more about the graduates’ career goals, their chosen fields of study, and where they plan to pursue their post-secondary education.

The 2014 Mayor’s List Award recipients in order of class rank are:

  • Halle Berger
  • Emma Vazquez
  • Emma Finnerty
  • Adam Vieira
  • Morgan Anthony
  • Haley LeRoux
  • Kibi Williams-Brown
  • Lauren Brouillard
  • Alexis Hebert
  • Samuel Racine

Update on New Bedford High School Incident

New Bedford High School officials this morning reported that overnight the school was entered by an unknown individual/s and fire extinguishers were intentionally activated, releasing material into the air. The home economics area was also disrupted.

Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin reported immediately to the school and worked closely with administrators to assess the situation. No students were admitted to the building while it was being inspected.

In consultation with New Bedford Fire Chief Michael Gomes, Dr. Durkin decided to “err on the side of caution” and cancel school today, given the presence of airborne particles, to prevent placing any students or staff at health risk.

All classes and other indoor activities at New Bedford High School are cancelled today. After-school sports and other outdoor activities will take place as scheduled. Some activities scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) have been relocated to Keith Middle School across the street from the high school.

The New Bedford Police Department is conducting an investigation into the matter, including review of video from surveillance cameras. A team of environmental air quality experts is conducting a study of the facility today to ensure that the building can be safely reopened for classes to resume on Monday.

Parents were immediately notified of the situation using the district’s automated telephone calling service. Community groups with activities planned within the school have been notified. Students in need of supervision whose parents could not be reached have been relocated to Keith Middle School across the street.

“These were foolish and thoughtless actions that needlessly interrupted the great teaching and learning that goes on everyday at our high school,” said Dr. Durkin. “I am extremely grateful to the staff, parents, and students for their swift and thorough response to this incident, and to the New Bedford Police and Fire Departments for their immediate cooperation and professionalism.”

Dr. Durkin has contacted the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to determine whether or not the school year at New Bedford High School must be extended by one day as a result of today’s closure.

New Bedford Public Schools to offer universal free breakfast and lunch next year

Beginning next year, breakfast and lunch will be available daily to every student in the New Bedford Public Schools at no charge, regardless of family income levels. The school district has been selected to participate in a new federal program designed to serve more nutritious meals and save families money.

The “Community Eligibility Option” waives meal fees for all children and eliminates the need for families to submit any financial eligibility forms. Massachusetts was one of 10 states, along with the District of Columbia, to pilot the program last year. It is now available nationwide to communities that meet eligibility requirements.

“In order to achieve academically, our students need full access to a healthy breakfast and lunch,” said Dr. Pia Durkin, Superintendent. “We are so pleased to offer universal free meals in every one of our schools, while eliminating the burden of proof for our low-income families.”

The district currently offers universal free breakfast at the elementary level. Beginning in September, free breakfast and lunch will be available to all elementary, middle, and high school students. Lunch also will be provided at no cost to all students in the following private schools: All Saints, First Church of the Nazarene, Holy Family Holy Name, St. Francis Xavier, and Nativity Preparatory School.

About 75% of the approximately 13,600 students enrolled in the New Bedford Public Schools and the five participating private schools are currently eligible for free (about 9,100 students) or reduced-price (about 730 students) meals. Students who do not meet financial eligibility guidelines, or who do not submit the required paperwork, currently pay $2.00 for lunch at the elementary level, or $2.25 at middle and high school. This year alone, families have paid approximately $400,000 in school meal charges citywide. Individual families could save up to $400 annually per child.

The program is administered at no additional cost to the school district. In fact, Nancy Carvalho, Director of Food Service, expects the program to generate additional revenue for the New Bedford Public Schools, given the likely increase in participation. All meals served in schools are eligible for federal reimbursement.

Ms. Carvalho noted that students will continue to have the option to pay a small fee for additional food and some snacks.

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