Grants & Scholarships

Building a legacy in Woonsocket

The Woonsocket Education Department’s “Building a Legacy of Excellence Together” project aims to develop a comprehensive professional development model to support teachers throughout the district.

In Deana McCarthy’s seventh grade social studies class at Woonsocket’s Hamlet Middle School students are learning about the Revolutionary War. But Mrs. McCarthy is not in front of the class lecturing, and textbooks aren’t to be found. Instead, students are working independently on laptop computers loaded with the course curriculum. Goals have been set and the students are progressing at their own pace. Mrs. McCarthy mentors each student, individually, on at-least a weekly basis.

Next door in Michaela Gormley’s science class, students are completing a project and are instructed to write a conclusion which indicates whether their hypothesis was supported. She provides a mini-lesson before students work in small groups to complete the assignment.

"We're creating leaders, and that's so important."

- Jenny Chan-Remka, EdD

These two classrooms provide a glimpse into the Woonsocket Education Department (WED)’s “Building a Legacy of Excellence Together” project that kicked off last fall with the announcement of a significant multi-year grant from the Foundation. The $225,000 in grant funding, distributed over three years, will support WED’s efforts to develop a comprehensive professional development model to support new and veteran teachers throughout the district.

Jenny Chan-Remka, EdD, WED’s assistant superintendent, explains, “The grant is helping not only in the classroom, but also with coaching and leadership. We’re creating leaders and that’s so important. We needed consistent, stable leadership before we could start to do the hard work in the classrooms.”

A coaching session for a small group of Woonsocket teachers who have applied for and been accepted as induction coaches occurs next door at Villa Nova Middle School. Led by an educator coach from New England Basecamp, one of WED’s professional partners for this project, the conversation touches on strategic planning, discussion techniques, student experiences, and more, all with the goal that newly-skilled induction coaches will use what they learn to support other teachers.

WED’s Building a Legacy partners

  • Better Lessons: working with the district’s eight induction coaches to develop a strong coaching foundation
  • Generation Civics: working initially with middle school teachers on content knowledge and approaches that result in action-based, student-centered civics
  • Center for Leadership and Educational Equity (CLEE): creating a learning community through professional development and embedded coaching.
  • New England Basecamp: providing ongoing support for teachers and school leaders around personalized learning through the use of the Summit technology platform
  • Teach For America: placing teachers from diverse backgrounds in high-need subject areas and working with new teachers through their All Corps Conference Summits