What made the partnership work?
The process really matters. To be able to implement something of this scale and quality meant that the partners and the schools had to have a relationship and the time to plan and to think together. For me, here at our Institute, where we’re part of Worcester State University and our work is centered around K–12 partnerships, this experience is a rare opportunity to think deeply with the district about how to improve academic and social-emotional outcomes for ELL students and families. This singular focus is something unique and valuable to this experience.
It became pretty clear that there are a lot of partners in Worcester that can contribute greatly to the outcomes for ELL students, but it’s really hard for the schools to harness those partnerships in a coherent way. They really don’t have the staffing or resources. So one of the early roles I took on was to organize the community partners so that there was an umbrella for the Worcester schools to deal with. That makes it a lot easier for everybody.
In large districts, it’s messy work to organize and take advantage of the strengths of the external partners, but it really helps the quality of the work. Not only were we able to unite under a single community umbrella for the delivery of services, but the collaboration went deeper, and we were able to develop a framework and curriculum that leverages the strengths of each partner and engages students and families. This framework is still used by the partners.
For more information on the Latino Education Institute, see http://www.worcester.edu/Latino-Education-Institute/.