An announcement, and a reflection.
Thursday, May 15th, from 4-8pm
Meany Middle School's Jaguar Arts Festival
301 21st Ave. E.
Admission free. Catered dinner available.
This event will feature participatory, performing, and visual art of all kinds, including the unveiling of a "long lost" William Cumming painting found in a storage closet last year and retouched by the 90-year-old local artist. For more info: http://www.seattleschools.org/schools/meany/
CPPS has identified Meany Middle School as a hidden gem in the Seattle Public Schools' system. It's a small middle school (450 - 600 students, depending on classroom usage), with an inclusive philosophy, a decent facility, and a strong principal and teaching staff. Its thriving programs include an arts integration model, advanced learning opportunties (ALO), schoolwide literacy, music, advanced math, afterschool sports and activities.
It's also undersubscribed, because although community parents have worked to raise its profile and its funds, aggregate test scores, programs, and events don't stand out in comparison to the bigger schools with more resources, more high-test students, and more dollars. Most unfortunately, plenty of folks never visit the school to find out what has changed in the last several years (scores rising far faster than average; new programs launched, reputations contradicted)
The CPPS hidden gem program is designed to bring more awareness of successful small programs like Meany's to the community, because when parents and students don't look for themselves, old beliefs die hard. A corollary to this truism: old patterns are hard to break. Even when schools drastically improve, many parents fear to choose schools less often named on their friends and neighbors' choice lists. Nobody wants their child to end up alone.
In addition to hidden gem publicity, CPPS is endeavoring to bring parent communities together to build cohorts and provide supports for "unpopular" but educationally strong choices. We're recruiting 4th grade families to check out Meany and southeast families to invest in and become ambassadors for several schools in that cluster (SE Ambassador workshop, 6:30 pm Thursday, May 22nd at Orca K-8). Please attend, and email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions.
What do you think? Can we get parents to look beyond the safety of traditional choices? Do these strategies have promise? I hope so.