It takes a village to raise a child, and nowhere is that more evident than in the Boston Public Schools.
During his January 17 “State of the City” address, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh unveiled the BuildBPS initiative, a $1 billion plan to revitalize the city’s public school buildings. The plan reflects the city’s commitment to ensure that all students attending Boston Public Schools have the resources they need to learn most effectively.
Just as important as creating that solid infrastructure, though, is making sure those buildings are filled with teachers and mentors who are committed to supporting students.
Providing students with the guidance they need to successfully graduate from high school and college is a daunting task for school systems throughout the country. Boston Public Schools has risen to this challenge by forging relationships with organizations like The Steppingstone Foundation, which supports Boston students as they work toward the ultimate goal of graduating from college.
Steppingstone is an out-of-school academic and social-emotional support program that works with 1,600 students each year from middle school through college. Every student in the program is a Boston resident, and two-thirds attend Boston Public Schools. In recent years, the program – which boasts an impressive 99% high school graduation rate and 80% four-year college graduation rate – has expanded its offerings to East Boston.
Steppingstone works closely with BPS students, teachers, and administrators to understand the unique struggles many students in the system face, and goes beyond providing simple academic support. Jordan Weymer, principal of East Boston’s Donald McKay K-8 School, notes,
“We try to create an environment so students feel pride in themselves, but we only have limited time during the day. Steppingstone works on some of those skills that would not be addressed during the course of the regular school day, and the results of that are huge.”
BPS Instructional Superintendent Mary Driscoll serves on Steppingstone’s Board of Directors and provides important guidance and insight into the ways organizations like Steppingstone can enhance the programming already available in Boston Public Schools.
There is still much work to do, and there always will be room for improvement. However, we are excited to be part of a coalition of organizations that partner with the Boston Public Schools to give our city’s students the opportunities they deserve.