Friday, December 11, 2009

Conley school preview - Dec. 8

This was my final tour of schools within my walk zone (the rest are Bates, Mozart, Sumner, and Lyndon). The pathetic thing was, I got lost on my way back home…. half a mile from my own house. So I got a free (de)tour of Hyde Park, a neighborhood with which I’m not very familiar. Brilliant. Half a mile quickly became five. What did I learn Tuesday? That I should still carry a map in the car to navigate through my own neighborhood.

The Conley’s small at 190 students, grades K0-5. There’s not a lot of space inside. A realtor might call it cozy.

The K1 math is a bit tricky, so please bear with me. For the most part, the school has two strands per grade, and one of those is special education.

But at the K0/K1 level, there are two classrooms that are both integrated special/general ed. Because of the integrated nature, they’re smaller classes at 15 students each: seven are special ed and eight are general ed. That’s a total of 16 total slots for general ed students. Then at the K2 level, the classes go up to the usual 22 students, leaving six extra seats for incoming students.

In one of the kindergarten classes, a small group of students was looking at a Roche Bros circular and writing up a shopping list. Very productive.

We convened in the library, which they’re in the process of refurbishing, possibly transforming into another kind of space. They lost their librarian to the budget cuts last year. Like at the Curley, students at the Conley are required to read or be read to 30 minutes nightly.

Their specialties are science (push-in for kindergarten, big kids go to science lab), visual art, and music. Grades 3 to 5 have violin instruction.

They don’t have a PE instructor. They just got a grant for more outdoor equipment and they’re looking at getting part-time help for physical education.

They’re working to improve their math scores on the MCAS with math tutoring in the upper grades.

At the moment, they have an interim principal, Joe Foley, who’s a former special ed teacher. They’re currently interviewing to fill that spot, and he is among the candidates.

There’s still the question of what happens after grade 5. The Roslindale K-5 schools are working to create a feeder pattern into the Washington Irving middle school, which has a new principal. Students from those Roslindale K-5 schools would automatically be placed in the Irving come 6th grade.

They have a new enclosed outdoor classroom that was covered in snow when I walked by. On warmer days, students can do science experiments or write there. They have a great play structure and plenty of blacktop for free play.

Foley said that food allergies were “a big deal.” The school is a peanut-safe zone. Children with severe allergies eat their lunches in the office, not the cafeteria.

Other crucial facts: Uniform is mandatory, and they have an on-site before- and after-school program run by the West Roxbury YMCA. I’m not clear whether that includes 4-year-olds.

I like the neighborhood, even though Poplar’s kind of a busy street. And I apparently have a tendency to get lost on it. The school's fine. I'm curious as to who they'll put in place as a permanent principal.

No comments: