Portland School Notebook: Oct. 10

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Grand opening celebrates ‘The Rowe-d to Success’

Portland Public Schools held a grand opening for the new Amanda C. Rowe Elementary School on Sept. 27.

Those attending the festivities included School Board members, City Councilors, students, teachers and administrators, along with members of the wider community.

The school includes not only state-of-the-art learning spaces, but a shared community space, as well. The new school replaces the former Hall Elementary and is named after long-time school nurse Amanda Row, who died of cancer in 2013.

“As we have transitioned into our new school … we have created The Rowe-d to Success, (program) empowering our students to grow in four areas of social emotional development: I choose kindness, I am ready to learn, I am a collaborative problem-solver and I keep trying,” said Principal Dawn Kenniston.

The nearly $30 million cost of the school was paid for almost entirely through state funding, except for a $1.4 million local bond that allowed the School Department to build a larger gym and cafeteria.

The new school is more than 30,000 square feet larger than Hall and has the capacity to serve as many as 558 students. 

Portland schools gain grant to join educational cohort

The Portland Public Schools has won an award of $150,000 from the Barr Foundation to better understand the academic experiences of the district’s high school students and inform future steps to ensure that all students are prepared to succeed in college, career, and the community.

The district is one of five New England school districts that each won $150,000 through the Foundation’s competitive request for proposals, Planning for Post-Secondary Success for All Students. The Portland Public Schools will form a cohort with the Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut; the Malden and Worcester public schools in Massachusetts and the Manchester School District in New Hampshire. The cohort will conduct comprehensive analyses of their high school student populations, share key learnings, and provide peer support through this process.

The insights generated will help members articulate a vision and suggest next steps to prepare all students for success.

“We know that many of our students go on to postsecondary success, but we don’t always know what factors make the difference at the high school level and lead to that success,” said Superintendent Xavier Botana. “This is an opportunity for us to better understand the experiences that prepare students for success in college and career and ensure that all of our students have the level of preparation that breeds success.”

Botana noted that this award helps the Portland Public Schools expand on work begun by Portland ConnectED, a community coalition that strives to support Portland students from cradle to college, career and citizenship. In 2014, ConnectED released a comprehensive Baseline Report, detailing Portland’s critical indicators and inviting others to join in putting ideas into action.

Among those celebrating the grand opening of Rowe School on Sept. 27 were School Board members, City Councilors, students, teachers and administrators.

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