By Cathleen Twardzik
As part of an ongoing focus on the continued improvement of schools in Somerville, Mayor Curtatone recently announced that the city of Somerville will be pursuing greater collaboration between schools and city agencies, as well as nonprofits.
The goal is innovation, which fosters academic achievement.
Efforts will aspire to integrate effective and innovative library department and recreation department programs into school curricula, as well as to tap the resources at creative learning organizations, within the city, such as Artisan’s Asylum, Sprout, and Parts and Crafts.
To further the plan, in his recent inaugural address Mayor Curtatone said, “I am prepared to offer city resources to work more closely with the School Department, with parent groups like Progress Together, and with families, throughout the city, to help define and make the tough decisions that will enable the Somerville Public Schools to achieve more dramatic successes. Indeed, we have already laid the groundwork for this kind of citywide and regional collaboration through our SomerPromise initiative. Next week, in an unprecedented collaborative effort of the city, the schools, Tufts, and more than 15 other partners, SomerPromise will enter its implementation phase.”
“Particular areas, such as arts programming, music, physical education and fitness activities, in collaboration with the city’s recreation department [are] just a few areas where we will continue to increase collaboration between city and schools to ensure students have many opportunities to grow and succeed in our public schools,” said Jackie Rossetti, Deputy Director of Communications of the city of Somerville.
It is important to note that the schools and the city have always shared ideas and have collaborated about copious issues.
To round it out, collaborations already exist between nonprofits and community agencies.
Because of their work with Shape Up Somerville, four Somerville public schools won awards, which came under the U.S. Department of Agriculture ‘s (USDA) Healthier US School Challenge, due to their physical activity and nutritional guidelines.
In addition, the city’s arts and music programs are growing, and thriving.
Among additional activities, for four years, Somerville has been named a 100 Best Community for Young People. That resulted from the collaboration between numerous youth-serving agencies citywide and Somerville schools.
“The recent Martin Luther King, Jr. “A Call to Action” celebration is a great example of how organizations from throughout the city come together to put on great events that will have a positive impact in our community,” said Rossetti.
“There’s a natural connection between the schools and both the library and recreation department,” she said. As an educational resource, the library is invaluable for students. It presents programs, which are targeted at students, such as Half Day Wednesday Movies.
“The Somerville Public Schools (SPS) and library have an existing collaborative working relationship to make sure students are aware of these programs and to encourage student participation. Similarly, the recreation department and SPS support each other in a number of ways, whether it’s the mutual sharing of facilities or promoting recreational programs and events to students.”
“The conversations to find additional ways to partner will continue, as we further explore expanding opportunities for student and family engagement in the many programs the city and schools offer,” said Rossetti.
The collaboration and partnership with businesses and organizations permits students to experience more, positive occasions, which are not within the scholastic environment.
How does that collaboration help businesses? It creates an opportunity for them to increase their base of customers, as well as to become more deeply rooted in the Somerville community.
Which other programs are being done to improve schools in Somerville? “The recent announcement of Somerville High School being named one of only six schools in the nation to be selected as a Verizon “Thinkfinity” pilot school is just one example of the School Department’s commitment to establishing collaborations with a variety of private industry, community, higher education and other partners that enhance the students’ learning experience. Another example would be the elementary school’s partnership with Groundwork Somerville, which supports on-site school gardens for science and health instruction,” said Rossetti.