Persevering Through Adversity

Mar 5, 2021

This week, I was able to join our new Governor Dan McKee and our colleagues in state government who have been supporting the state’s COVID-19 response.

My message was clear, I am so grateful for the work in our schools over this past year to get us here—particularly the work of our superintendents, our school leaders, our teachers and our families. It has been an incredibly long year for all of us. But we have seen our schools apply creativity and flexibility every day in our classrooms—both virtually and in-person.

We were able to return students this past fall because of the diligent planning of our school and LEA leaders and we have been able to keep our classrooms open because of their dedication to providing educational opportunities to our kids, no matter the obstacle.

We know that we have put necessary mitigation plans in place to ensure that our schools are safe and supportive. Our teachers and school staff are and always have been, a top priority.

Each time we found the resources to add additional mitigation efforts we have been ready to do so. We have provided every classroom in Rhode Island with HEPA air filters who needed one—at no cost to our schools—the moment they arrived.

We piloted and then expanded successful school-based testing opportunities in our school buildings to provide surveillance testing as a way to track this virus and it’s spread. I’m happy to say that this robust testing approach has shown us that our schools are not spaces of spread and our positivity rates continue to stay under 1%, even when community rates remain higher.

And now, thanks to Governor McKee, with the prospect of additional vaccines dedicated solely to our schools and their staff, we will be able to add a measure to protect these classroom spaces.

So, thank you—to our teachers, our teaching assistants, our bus drivers and monitors, our school principals and superintendents for this work.

Angélica

From the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE)

2. Statewide School Calendar 2021-22 Now Available

One of the key supports for our school communities during the COVID-19 pandemic has been utilizing a statewide school calendar so that all Rhode Island students, educators and families are operating on one shared schedule. A unified school calendar ensures that educators from across the state have the opportunity to prepare and engage in professional development opportunities to better serve students and families.

The unified calendar for the 2021-22 school year is now available. Visit the homepage of the RIDE website for more details on the calendar.

3. Statewide School Calendar 2021-22 Now Available

RIDE is asking the entire RI education community to share amazing, heartfelt and uplifting stories to be featured in a number of upcoming RIDE initiatives. We want to share and highlight stories from the classroom that can have a profound positive impact on the rest of our education community. Whether it’s through a story, photo, video or any other creative medium of your choice, we’d love to hear from you. Please email all submissions to fieldmemo@ride.ri.gov.

World Class Talent

4. RIDE Future Educator Scholarship for 2021 High School Graduating Seniors

The Rhode Island Department of Education and Office of Innovation are partnering to recognize a Rhode Island graduating high school senior pursuing higher education in the field of education and the Rhode Island PK-12 educator who has made a significant impact on this student. High School seniors are invited to apply for the RIDE Future Educator scholarship to support their dream of becoming an educator. The graduating senior selected will receive a $500 scholarship. In addition, the RI educator identified by the senior as having made a positive impact on them and influenced their decision to pursue a career in education, will receive a $500 award.

To apply, seniors should complete the RIDE Future Educator application due April 19, 2021. If you have questions, please contact Mary Keenan at mary.keenan@ride.ri.gov.

5. No Cost Professional Learning Options

RIDE is committed to helping our schools and educators strengthen their practices through professional learning. As such, RIDE has updated its list of no-cost professional learning options to support the selection of a variety of synchronous and asynchronous professional learning sessions available for the upcoming state-wide Professional Development Day on March 15th.  We hope these offerings can enhance opportunities for educators, administrators, and staff to engage in professional learning in a variety of areas, including health & wellness, instructional practices, social-emotional learning, and more. We encourage LEAs and educators to revisit this list frequently for continued updates and to share this list with other educators.

Please email PL@ride.ri.gov for any professional learning with any questions.

6. Great Teachers in Action

The RIDE Educator Recognition Program and Highlander Institute have developed a yearlong educator professional development series called Great Teachers in Action (GTA). Rhode Island has a wealth of talented educators who are leaders within their districts, content areas, and or grade span. RIDE’s goal is to utilize the skills and expertise of RI educators to provide opportunities for educators to collaborate and learn from and with one another. The GTA Professional Learning sessions enable RI educators to collaborate, watch and debrief model lessons, and access resources. The professional learning sessions have been offered on the statewide professional learning days, with the fourth sessions being offered on March 15, 2021.  

To learn more about the presenters, topics, and to register for a PL session, please visit the RIDE Professional Learning Page.

7. The Rhode Island Right to Read Act Guidance Document

In 2019, the Rhode Island legislature passed the Rhode Island Right to Read Act. This law requires LEAs to provide professional development in the Science of Reading and Structured Literacy to all educators. Educators must exhibit either proficiency or awareness in the Science of Reading and Structured Literacy, depending on their current work assignment. By increasing knowledge of the research on how students learn to read, and instructional approaches that align with this research, Rhode Island educators will deepen their understanding of how to directly support students who struggle with decoding, spelling, comprehension, written expression, and other areas of literacy. This LEA Guidance Document articulates background information, a timeline, and requirements pertaining to the Right to Read Act. We have already received questions on aspects of the legislation and concerns regarding the timelines and are currently working on a follow-up FAQ document to be released in the coming weeks.

Please submit questions to the RIDE Literacy team: Kari.Kurto@ride.ri.gov and Colleen.Obrien@ride.ri.gov.

Excellence in Learning

8. RIDE Posts Additional CTE spotlights

Previously, RIDE announced that in honor of February being CTE Month, we would celebrate the achievements of CTE programs across Rhode Island. Building on last week’s installment, we are excited to spotlight five more initiatives.

The first is Davies’ Center for Advanced Manufacturing Machine Technology workshop. The completely renovated facilities provide students with the best industry technology and tools available today.

The second is a teacher spotlight from Ponaganset High School. Charlie Myers, a Construction Management teacher, has shown resourcefulness in providing his students with an opportunity to learn hands-on skills in a hybrid learning environment.

The third is the Pre-Engineering/Robotics Technology program at Cranston Area Career and Technical Center. The first of its kind in New England, this CTE program covers electronics, instrumentation and computer hardware to advanced projects with autonomous robots, advanced manufacturing systems, and bio-medical instrumentation.

The fourth spotlight is a special work-based learning opportunity at Burrillville High School where biomedical students shadowed and assisted the COVID-19 vaccination efforts happening at Burrillville Middle School.

The fifth spotlight is from East Providence where Pre-Engineering, Computer Science, and Graphic Communication students will be engaged in a series of unique work-based learning projects throughout the month of March.

You can read and learn more about these exciting initiatives here! And please check back regularly, as we plan to update the document weekly with additional CTE spotlights from around the Ocean State.

9. CTE Accelegrants Amendment Process Information

Please be advised that the Perkins V 2021 amendment process opened on March 1, 2021 and will close on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Additionally, LEAs must apply for their re-allocated 2020 Perkins funds (i.e., 2020 carryover) during this window of time, too. Amendments are made within the Accelegrants system by district CTE personnel. All amendments must be submitted on or beforeMarch 10, 2021. Please contact RIDE at CTE@ride.ri.gov for questions or support.

10. Upcoming Field Feedback Meetings for the CTE Community

In order to understand the field’s perspective on the best way to operationalize the requirements of Perkins V, RIDE is hosting a series of Field Feedback meetings to take place in March and April. The topics for the sessions will include: Comprehensive Local Needs Assessments (CLNAs), Perkins formula funds, CTE Program Audits, and Technical Assistance. Please check the RIDE website here for specific dates, times, and Zoom details.

11. RIDE Requests Annual Listing of Textbooks

Each year, RIDE collects and distributes a listing of textbooks used in all public schools in the state of Rhode Island. The purpose of this list is to meet the requirements of General Laws 16-23-2 and 16-23-3, which provide for the loan of textbooks in the areas of math, science, world languages, English-language arts and history/social studies grades K-12 to non-public schools in Rhode Island.

LEAs are required to submit to RIDE a complete listing of all textbooks planned for use during the 2021-2022 academic year, by March 31, 2021, using the eRIDE system. eRIDE is an electronic process through which districts must manage their textbook lists by adding and deleting titles and other pertinent information; instructions can be found in the eRIDE Textbook List Upload area. Once RIDE has received updates from all school districts, the information will be posted to the RIDE website. Any inquiries regarding the program should be addressed to Paul Williams or paul.williams@ride.ri.gov. Technical issues regarding uploading your textbook list in eRIDE should be directed to Mario Goncalves at 222-8968 or mario.goncalves@ride.ri.gov.

12. Implementing a Sound Wall for Early Literacy Instruction

In response to educator interest in learning more about implementing a sound wall in their early elementary classrooms, RIDE is pleased to offer a presentation on sound wall basics from Dawn Durham of the Pennsylvania Training and Assistance Network (PaTTAN). Using a sound wall encourages a speech-to-print learning approach that supports students’ articulation and understanding of speech sounds which directly strengthens their ability to learn to read and spell. Dawn will explain more about the sound wall approach, provide classroom examples, and leave time for questions at the end. Register for this webinar that will be held at 4pm on Tuesday, March 16th. A recording will be posted to the RIDE Structured Literacy page following the presentation. Please email Kari.Kurto@ride.ri.gov with any questions.

Engaged Communities

13. RIDE Seeks Advisory Group Members for RI Health Education Framework Review

RIDE is partnering with The RI Healthy Schools Coalition and Cairn Guidance to facilitate the process of review and revision of the current Health Literacy for All: The Rhode Island Health Education Framework. Health education curriculum, adopted at the local level, must be aligned with the RI Health Education Framework and associated Comprehensive Health Instructional Outcomes and required for all RI K-12 students. The revised Framework will be rooted in standards aligned with the National Health Education Standards and emphasize a skills-based approach to health education where health topics and content provide context for the critical development of skills, competence and motivation needed to lead a healthy life.

Stakeholders (K-12 Health Teachers, Curriculum Directors, Parents, Students, School Nurse Teachers, School Committee Members, Higher Ed HPE, Community Non-Profits & State Agencies) are invited to learn more and apply for membership to the Advisory Group by completing this form by March 8, 2021. Stakeholder advisory members will commit to participating in two virtual public meetings on Tuesday, March 23 and Wednesday, May 19 from 3:30 – 5:00 PM, to inform and guide the review process.

For further information, contact Rosemary Reilly-Chammat, at rosemary.reilly-chammat@ride.ri.gov.

14. SurveyWorks Responses Approaching 70,000! Response Rate Dashboard is Now Live

With 25 days to go, the school community continues to give us their valuable feedback. This week we highlight Melville Elementary School (Portsmouth) and Peace Dale Elementary School (South Kingstown). These schools have heard from close to 40% of their families and more than 70% of students, educators and administrators. Response rates are now live. We know that remote learning has made it more difficult for you to survey all of your students. Just remember students can take the survey from anywhere. Please reach out to us at Surveyworks@ride.ri.gov if you have any questions or concerns.

From Other State Agencies

15. RI Department of Health: Oral Health Program

In place of traditional dental screenings, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) Oral Health Program is asking school nurses to oversee a dental survey of students to be performed by parents for the 2020-21 school year. This is requested considering the challenges of COVID-19. Detailed information was sent to all school nurses. The RIDOH is requesting aggregate data be shared for grades K, 3 and 6. Schools can use the information to help connect youth to dental care if needed. Nurses can use the RIDOH Find Dental Care link to find a dentist or Find a Dentist on the UHC RIte Smiles page. The RIDOH will provide assistance with finding a dentist if necessary. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Samuel Zwetchkenbaum at Samuel.Zwetchkenbaum@health.ri.gov.

From Outside Organizations

16. Free Entrepreneurship Course for Students through Brown University and YEP!

YEP! is a completely FREE Brown University-led eight-week after-school program for high school students. The program will teach students how to apply the entrepreneurial mindset to solve problems in their community, through a series of classes, workshops, and hands-on activities.

Students enrolled in YEP! will attend an hour-long session every Wednesday from 4-5 pm, and an additional hour-long small group session over the weekend. Each week from March 13th to April 21st, students will learn about entrepreneurship and social change from professors, students, entrepreneurs, community organizers, and field experts from Brown University.

The deadline to apply is March 7th @ 11:59 pm. Here is a link to the application and to learn more about YEP!, please check out the website.

17. Teachers Union Adopts Resolution to Recognize Armenian Genocide and Genocide Education

The American Federation of Teachers, ATF, recently adopted a resolution to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide in which over 1.5 million people were killed, beginning in 1915.The resolution also incorporated a Genocide Education component. With assistance for the Rhode Island Holocaust and Genocide Education Coalition, RIDE has published a list of resources about the Armenian genocide for educators to consider using. Additional material and information recommended by the Coalition is available for educating students about The Holocaust and genocides. Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day is April 24.

18. Teacher Assistant Training with EBEC

Register now for TA training, which provides you with Teacher Assistant qualification in a Rhode Island school district. All materials are included. This training will be presented via Zoom. Please make payment arrangements at the time of registration. A bachelor’s degree or ParaPro certificate may also be required depending on the district. For more information, please visit our website. Attendance is required at all 6 classes on Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday, March 16, 17, 18, & 22, 23, 24 from 9:00 A.M. to Noon. Register here.

19. RIEEA Gives Annual Award to all Rhode Island Teachers

For the past several years, RIEEA has given a number of Environmental Education Awards to educators, students, and organizations at their Annual Summit. With 2020 being anything but ordinary, RIEEA decided to forego their usual procedure and extend recognition to all Rhode Island teachers as a gesture of their immense gratitude and appreciation for all of the hard work teachers have tirelessly done – and continue to do – to keep our children healthy, safe, and academically engaged, many times outdoors! This short video features congratulatory remarks from Senator Reed, Senator Whitehouse, and Congressman Langevin. Thank you to all Rhode Island teachers!

20. Wikipedia Under the Hood

This program features Professor Troy Hicks, an expert in digital writing, who engages participants in an interactive and collaborative online activity that helps participants better understand how Wikipedia works and how it can be used to support the development of research skills and inquiry learning in any field or discipline. As we close, we will hear from faculty who have engaged students in creating Wikipedia entries, helping them consider the value of this much-maligned resource for their own academic learning. Participants will receive a certificate of attendance. This program takes place on Monday, March 15th from Noon to 1 P.M. and is part of a series of events celebrating Wikipedia at 20 sponsored by the Media Education Lab at URI.

21. Nonviolent Schools RI 2021 Summer Institute

Educators are learning how to use the power of Kingian Nonviolence to transform their classrooms into communities of peace and understanding. There has never been a more urgent need to consider how Dr. King’s principles of nonviolence and strategies to reconcile conflict can be harnessed to support the needs of all learners. Nonviolent Schools RI ‘s 2021 Summer Institute is the professional development program for educators who desire to create a more inclusive, community-based learning community. The Summer Institute is a powerful, multi-disciplinary gathering designed for K-12 educators and school leaders. It includes impactful content using inquiry-based techniques and activities to inspire educators in building equitable, antiracist learning communities. Please register here.

22. LWVRI Wilson Civic Education Awards now Accepting Applications

Calling pre-K to 12 teachers whose exceptional and innovative work has inspired civic engagement and civic learning in their students! The Rhode Island League of Women Voters (LWVRI) is now accepting nominations and applications for outstanding teachers for the Susan B. Wilson Civic Merit Awards. Prizes are $2,000 (1st Place), $1000 (2nd Place), and $500 (Honorable Mention). Please apply by April 30, 2021.

23. Reading Across Rhode Island 2021 Community Book Club Readers’ Café

Be part of the conversation. Join Peter Quesnel, Library Media Specialist at Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex, Alondra Cepeda, 2020 JSEC graduate, Leslyann Oquendo, 2020 JSEC graduate and Ray Rickman, Executive Director of Stages of Freedom for a Reading Across Rhode Island 2021 Community Book Club Readers’ Cafe for a book discussion for Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. This virtual event takes place on Thursday, March 11th at 7 P.M. and is hosted by Barrington Books and Rhode Island Center for the Book. Register for free here.

24. Rhode Island School for Progressive Education ESL Certification Program

The application for this year’s ESL Certification Program is now open! This year, RISPE can invite all certified RI educators in grades PK-12 to apply. RISPE is passionate about recruiting educators who want to better serve their multilingual learners through high quality, culturally relevant instruction and hone their practice as anti-racist educators.

The ESL page of RISPE’s website has detailed instructions on submitting an application, the cost of the program, a program calendar, a list of offered courses, and information on who is eligible to apply. Interested applicants can reach out to info@rhodeislandspe.com with individual questions.

25. RISTE Free Session Offerings on Saturdays through June 12th

K-12 Educators looking to learn more about instructional technology and navigating distance/hybrid learning should attend RISTE’s free “In IT Together” sessions on Saturdays (March 6, 13, 20, and 27; April 3 and 10; May 1, 8, 15, 22; and June 5 and 12) all from 9:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. Tech coaches and integration specialists who provide support for teachers using educational technology platforms during distance, hybrid, or blended learning should join RISTE on Saturday mornings from 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M.  Registration for both sessions can be found on our website or contact Deb Ramm at training@ri-iste.org.