On December 7, we hosted a luncheon for our Making the Grade Leadership Society at the Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School (OGPS). The leadership society was established last year to recognize our most committed and generous donors. We chose the OGPS for this group for a reason: it is a story of remarkable success.

The OGPS was identified as a “Turnaround School” in 2010 because it was one most under-performing schools in the state – out of 500 schools it was in the bottom five. It had the largest number of calls to the Boston Police Department; its attendance rate was abysmal. It couldn’t get much worse and through dedicated leadership it didn’t. In fact, it improved dramatically.

Gov. Deval Patrick highlighted their achievements at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, “In less than a year the Orchard Gardens went from one of the worst schools in the district to one of the best schools in the state. The whole school community is engaged and proud and so am I,” he said.

Principal Andrew Bott, Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School

Principal Andrew Bott, Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School

Andrew Bott, the principal spoke to our guests about how he and his colleagues transformed the school culture. He and his hand-picked staff created a “culture of winning,” helping students “to believe in their greatness and potential.” He used data analysis to get to the bottom of major issues ranging from attendance to reading levels. He strategically used school partners because he knew that, “with only 72 teachers, we couldn’t do it alone.”

This is where school partners like Boston Partners in Education come into the picture. We wanted to show our guests just how important our services can be to students and their teachers.

Two fifth grade students, Kathy and Nicole spoke to our guests about why they appreciate their weekly volunteer, Kellyanne Dignan.


Megan Struckel, Kathy and Nicole’s teacher also shared why she appreciates having Kellyanne visit her classroom every week.

While the school’s achievements are impressive, Mr. Bott knows that this is only the first step. He’s ready for what he calls “Turnaround 2.0” where they “take the momentum and incredible successes and solidify that to become a rock in the community.”

The OGPS was not the only school our guests were able to hear about that day. In fact, it was our first and last stop. Prior to lunch, we all met as a group and boarded a school bus to begin our “Jump on the Bus” tour.

One of the greatest challenges – and opportunities – for Boston Partners is meeting the unique needs of each individual school partner. Through the consistent support of our Making the Grade Leadership Society, we are able to do just that, and we wanted to show each person what his/her investment really means.

We chose nine schools in the “Circle of Promise” as destinations for our bus tour. Our Executive Director, Pamela Civins led the tour describing each of the schools, what grades they serve, what they specialize in, who the students are, and of course, how we partner with each of them.

It was a truly amazing experience. We received a lot of positive feedback from our guests:

I was very moved and thrilled to see the impact Boston Partners has made and to feel our family has in a small way been a part of this.
Bob R.

I had a wonderful time exploring the schools and neighborhoods in which Boston Partners plays such an important role. The Orchard Gardens principal, teachers, and students were terrific to see and learn from — altogether a great way to see Boston Partners in Education in action and its profound impact.
Lydia L.

Today’s “Jump on the Bus” tour with your excellent commentary and tour guiding was absolutely wonderful. Our visit to the Orchard Gardens School with Mr. Bott’s presentation, the children’s performances and the Boston Partners volunteer’s testimony was inspiring beyond belief. You and your staff really know how to make Boston Partners volunteers and supporters feel appreciated. And you really know how to put on a pitch perfect event!

Congratulations to all of you for the successful outcomes of your wonderful work on behalf of the school children of Boston. Boston Partners is a role model for making a difference in their lives.
Sally P.

Here is some information about the schools we visited:
Dearborn Middle School
Programs present: The Big Cheese Reads

Boston Day & Evening Academy (high school)
Students served: 13
Programs present: School Volunteer Program

Nathan Hale School
Students served: 14
Programs present: Math Rules!

James W. Hennigan School/ELC West
Students served: 115
Programs present: Power Lunch, School Volunteer Program

Maurice Tobin School
Students served: 129
Programs present: School Volunteer Program

Joseph J. Hurley School
Students served: 12
Programs present: Power Lunch, School Volunteer Program

William Blackstone School
Students served: 52
Programs present: Math Rules!, Power Lunch, School Volunteer Program

Orchard Gardens K-8
Students served: 13
Programs present: Math Rules!, School Volunteer Program, The Big Cheese Reads
*Students served does not include The Big Cheese Reads