Cultivating Excellence - Hczpromise

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Cultivating ExcellencePromise Academy Charter SchoolsStrategic Priority InitiativeSchool Year 2019-2020

Table of ContentsMessage From Our Leaders3Harlem Children’s Zone and Promise Academy Overview4Harlem Children’s Zone Values5Vision of a Promise Academy Graduate6Cultivating Excellence: Our Strategic Priorities7Long-Term Impact of Strategic Priorities14Next Steps for Teachers, Students and Parents15 2

A Message from Our Leaders:Taking Our Schools To The Next LevelDear Promise Academy Community,Providing our students with an excellent education is a fundamental part of our work at the Harlem Children’sZone. Through our Promise Academy Charter Schools, we have not only improved the educational outcomes ofour scholars, but we are proving what is possible in urban education.We pride ourselves on being a learning community, which means that we reflect on our work, build on ourstrengths and identify weaknesses as opportunities to improve. In that spirit, we are excited to share with you theCultivating Excellence Initiative, a collaborative effort which is taking our schools to the next level ofconsistency and strength. Beginning in 2018, leaders from our schools have participated in an unprecedentedeffort to implement our five strategic priorities. We have partnered together to improve our school culture,establish a clear, shared vision of excellence for our students, align our practices, embrace teacher voice ininstructional decision making, further develop our staff’s skills, and establish systems to improve our schools.Through this initiative, we are strengthening our educational environment to engage our scholars in becomingstewards of their own learning. One of the earliest steps in this process was to create a vision for a PromiseAcademy graduate. Based on that, we defined our ideal school culture, one that ensures a focus on the wholechild, promoting social and emotional learning at every grade. While we are proud of our progress to date, weare excited to take this work to the next level. For instance, we know that a driving factor in the success of ourstudents is our ability to effectively develop and support our teachers. Therefore, we are continuing to look atways to improve our professional development systems and instructional practices to support to our staff.We are excited about the many benefits that our students, staff and families will experience through theCultivating Excellence Initiative. Together, we will patiently move forward so these strategic priorities take rootand help us grow into a school that assures all Promise Academy students successfully graduate from college,start a rewarding career and make their families and community proud.Sincerely,Anne Williams-Isom and Dr. Achil PetitAnne Williams-IsomChief Executive OfficerHarlem Children’s ZoneAchil Petit, Ed.D.SuperintendentPromise Academy Charter SchoolsPromise Academy Cultivating Excellence3 3

Executive SummaryIn 2018, Promise Academy launched a three-year Cultivating Excellence Initiative, designed to accelerate ourgrowth and develop a stronger learning community for our students and staff. After a comprehensive assessmentof both our strengths and weaknesses, we identified five strategic priority areas to cultivate excellence at PromiseAcademy. These priority areas are designed to help our six Promise Academy schools deliver on our sharedvision for a Promise Academy graduate (see page 7).Five Strategic PrioritiesSchool & RecognitionProfessionalDevelopmentSystems& CommunicationSchool Culture: This priority focuses on supporting positive behavior among our scholars and responding totheir social, emotional and wellness needs. We are doing so by implementing a trauma-informed social emotionallearning program and delivering high-quality professional development to our staff.Instructional Excellence: Driven by our vision of a Promise Academy graduate, we are strengthening andre-aligning our course offerings and curriculum across grades to ensure all students are truly ready for thedemands of college and career.Observation, Feedback & Recognition: This priority ensures that we have both a clear set of expectations forall of our teaching staff, as well as a consistent process for teachers to be observed and coached. We have begunimplementing new systems for observation, both formal and informal, so that every educator gets the directfeedback, training, and support they need to excel.Professional Development: We strongly believe that investing in the development of our staff is critical toimproving the educational outcomes of our students. This priority area focuses on transforming the professionaldevelopment (PD) experience and resources we offer to our educators and administrators, not only increasing thefrequency of PD, but improving the quality and relevance as well.Systems & Communication: The implementation of these priorities will be supported by a broader focus on ourcommunication and system alignment. By documenting key practices and systems and encouraging collaborationacross schools, we will promote a positive, empowered, and accountable adult culture that will cultivate a strongand consistent student body from kindergarten through college graduation.As an organization that has built a worldwide reputation for innovation, we are excited about the bright futureahead for our students, staff and families as we continue implementing the Cultivating Excellence Initiative.Promise Academy Cultivating Excellence 4

Who We ArePromise Academy Charter Schools are part of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a nationally recognized modelfor breaking the cycle of poverty, that offers cradle to college to career programming in central Harlem.HARLEM CHILDREN’S ZONEPROMISE ACADEMY CHARTERSCHOOLSMISSION STATEMENT: To break the cycle ofpoverty in Central Harlem by working at scale tobuild community, strengthen families and ensurechildren succeed from birth to college to career.MISSION STATEMENT: To provide high quality,standards-based academic programs for scholars,grades K-12, from underserved communities andunderperforming school districts. We equip scholarswith the skills they need to get to and through collegeand career successfully. Promise Academy promoteshigh achievement in all subjects through a demandingcurriculum, extensive supportive services and the useof data-driven teaching methods. Promise Academy iscommitted to promoting academic accomplishment,positive character development, healthy lifestyles andleadership skills. In partnership with the HarlemChildren’s Zone, Promise Academy addresses theeducational and developmental needs of each scholar.HCZBY THENUMBERSOVERVIEW: We offer a comprehensive, place-basedmodel aimed at tackling the myriad socio-economic andenvironmental factors of poverty through in-depth,direct service programs for children, their families, andthe community. Our high quality, no-cost programsmeet their most urgent needs through education, socialservices, access to healthcare and other resources thatinfluence social capital and upward mobility.Importantly, our pipeline—the seamless continuum ofevidence-based supports tailored for every stage fromearly childhood through college and career. Sinceinception, we have achieved unprecedented success: ourPre-K programs are sending children to kindergartenschool-ready, our charter schools have made significantheadway in closing the racial achievement gap, andeach year, we send 200 students to college.14,000 97%Children Served6,388Baby CollegeGraduatesSince 200098%Harlem Gems Pre-KStudents “School Ready”High School SeniorsAccepted to College9,000 Children in the HealthyHarlem ProgramPromise Academy Cultivating Excellence 5

Our ValuesTo ensure that 2,100 employees across 30 programs are aligned in how we get all our children to andthrough college, HCZ has articulated six core values to guide us.Children FirstExcellenceRespectWe embrace a holistic, youthcentered approach to createtransformational opportunities,driven by justice and a radicalhope for their future. We partnerwith families and ourcommunity to prioritize thesafety, well-being, anddevelopment of our youth.We set high expectations anduncompromising standardsbecause our children, families,and community deserveconsistent, high qualityopportunities and services. Werole model, execute, and servewith integrity and accountability.We deeply value the knowledgeand experience that every child,family, community partner andcolleague brings. We ask tounderstand, listen before sharing,and act with empathy.Strategic RelentlessnessArmy of LoveBest Selves to Best ServeWe explore every option to findthe best approach to address thecomplex challenges each of ouryouth and families face. Wepersevere with resilience,balancing extraordinary effortwith sustainable resources andexpertise.We support each other and worktogether with laughter and joy toturn shared strength and wisdominto collective impact. We learnfrom each other, ask for helpwhen needed, and respond whenasked.We bring our best selves to thischallenging work each day, to bestserve our young people, theirfamilies and this community. Weencourage healthy habits andsupport each others’ journey forphysical, emotional, and personalwellness.“Just as we have personal values that guide our decision-making and dailyactions, organizational values guide our work. This campaign is a way to beclear about who we are as an organization and help us be consistent.”-CEO Anne Williams-IsomPromise Academy Cultivating Excellence 6

Our Vision of aPromise Academy GraduateWe have a clear vision for a Promise Academy graduate: a life-long learner that is committed topursuing their intellectual, social, and emotional growth. With this end in mind, we are aligning ourculture model, course offerings, and instructional practices across K-12 in support of this vision.Life-long LearnersPromise Academy Charter Schools develop life-long learners committed to the continuous pursuit ofintellectual, social, and emotional growth, while holding high the importance of wellness and selfcare. As members of our school community, our scholars embrace our organizational values toachieve self-sufficiency and success in school and beyond.Ready for College &CareerPromise Academy scholars will graduate ready for college and the career of their choice, withadvanced skills in mathematics and English Language Arts; a command of science, history and thearts; and familiarity with at least one secondary language. Our graduates will employ tech-literacyskills to navigate the college environment and the modern workforce, and they will have engaged inmeaningful exploration of at least one potential field of study or career.Conscious Citizens ofthe WorldPromise Academy graduates will be equipped to pursue their passions and empowered to think,speak, and act positively on behalf of themselves, their community, the country, and the world. Asconscious citizens, our graduates will understand issues of equity and social justice and engagerespectfully in challenging discourse. With a firm foundation of compassion, they will work tostrengthen and support their diverse communities.Equipped Socially andEmotionallyConfident and resilient, Promise Academy graduates will approach any circumstance knowing whenand how to seek help if they need it. They will have the courage and self-discipline to take calculatedrisks, knowing that failing is part of learning. Our scholars will graduate as independent, motivated,and reflective individuals, carrying with them the love and dedicated support of their HCZ family.Promise Academy Cultivating Excellence 7

Cultivating Excellence:Our Strategic PrioritiesIn 2018, we identified a set of five strategic priorities, ensuring alignment across our six PromiseAcademy schools that are bound together by one vision of a Promise Academy graduate. We believe thatthese shared priorities are foundational for cultivating excellence and growing Observation,Feedback cationPromise Academy Cultivating Excellence 8

1Strategic Priority 1:School CultureDesign and launch a consistent set of systems for building classroom culture,social emotional development, and scholar agency.Action 1:Create and implement an aligned, developmentally appropriate K-12 school culturesystem that supports positive behavior among our scholars by maintaining consistentexpectations, offering effective incentives and delivering appropriate consequences.Action 2:Design and implement a social emotional learning program that is research-based,comprehensive and trauma-informed.Action 3:Develop school leadersand staff to better meetthe needs of theirstudents sed onincorporatingsocial emotionallearning practicesinto their classrooms.Action 4:Develop systems to monitor andsupport teachers in meeting classroomculture expectations.Promise Academy Cultivating Excellence 9

2Strategic Priority 2:Instructional ExcellenceEstablish a clear and shared vision of excellence for Promise Academyscholars and ensure alignment of curriculum to this vision.Action 1:Develop a shared vision of excellence for a Promise Academy graduate.Action 2:Analyze, refine, and implement K-12 ELA and math curriculum that is aligned with thevision of excellence for a graduate, college- and career-ready rigor, as well as with CommonCore standards. This includes offering more robust writing instruction in all grades.Action 3:Analyze, refine, and implementshared K-12 science and socialstudies curriculum that is alignedwith the vision of excellence fora graduate.Action 4:Align K-12 course offerings toensure consistent sequences ofcoursework and adequatepreparation of a PromiseAcademy graduate, includingenhancing our AdvancedPlacement offerings in highschool.Promise Academy Cultivating Excellence 10

3Strategic Priority 3:Observation, Feedbackand RecognitionEstablish a clear and shared system for assessing teaching at PromiseAcademy and for providing effective observation and feedback.Action 1:Adopt a clear system and set of expectations that define excellence for Promise Academyteachers, teaching assistants and teaching fellows.Action 2:Develop a clear and consistent approach for observation, feedback and recognition that isaligned with Promise Academy’s expectations for teachers.Action 3:Adopt consistent tools for formal and informal observations and provide the necessarytraining and guidelines on the purpose and frequency of observations.Promise Academy Cultivating Excellence 11

4Strategic Priority 4:Professional DevelopmentDevelop and retain highly effective and mission-aligned teachers throughdifferentiated and relevant professional development.Action 1:Use data to develop a professionaldevelopment (PD) scope andsequence with opportunities fororganization-wide, site-specificand individualized professionallearning.Action 2:Develop a systematic approach toPD content creation and deliveryto ensure consistentimplementation.Action 3:Collect teacher input and feedbackon PD offerings to inform areas ofstrength and improvement.Action 4:Analyze and resolve any time,space and staffing barriers toimplementing high-quality andeffective PD, and then coordinateany required supports.Promise Academy Cultivating Excellence 12

5Strategic Priority 5:Systems & CommunicationClarify responsibilities and adopt systems that will support a positive,empowered and accountable adult culture.Action 1:Develop a comprehensive document of shared K-12 systems and practices as a resource andreference tool for leaders and staff.Action 2:Refine and expand opportunities for teaching staff to have more voice in instructionaldecision-making.Action 3:Refine and expand systems to support greater alignment and effective collaboration acrossgrades and campuses.Promise Academy Cultivating Excellence 13

Our Anticipated Long-Term ImpactBy focusing on these five shared priorities, we aim to cultivate excellence across our schools and growtogether. We are prioritizing this work because we believe that the long-term impact will besignificant and support the promise that we made to our students and families.1School Culture2InstructionalExcellence3Observation, Feedback& Recognition4ProfessionalDevelopment5Systems& Communication Improved social-emotional learning (SEL) skills among students Consistent expectations, incentives and consequences for students Fewer student removals and suspensions Aligned student learning experience across K-12 gradesImproved achievement against Common Core state standardsImproved student mastery based on benchmark assessment scoresHigher number of AP classes offered and a growth in college andcareer readiness among graduates Increased frequency of teacher observations and feedback More consistent implementation of optimal instructional practices Higher percentage of teachers feel supported and developed Higher frequency and quality of staff professional development Improved teacher retention Greater use of data to support instruction Clearer roles and responsibilities for educators and administrators Greater collaboration and alignment Higher employee satisfactionPromise Academy Cultivating Excellence 14

Join us on our path to excellence!As a learning community, we are committed to growing together. We invite you to get involved andshare your ideas about how Promise Academies can continue improving so that every studentgraduates with the skills needed to succeed in college and career. We are excited to partner with you!TeachersStudentsParents Speak with your educationdirector or principal on waysthat systems can be furtherclarified or improved Offer to lead a training orbecome a peer mentor Share your best classroompractices with other teachers Regularly implement social andemotional learning techniquesand trauma-informed practicesin your classroom Speak with your teacher,counselor or principal on anyideas you have to improve yourschool or experience Ask questions and advocate foryourself and others Feed your curiosity and takeadvantage of the academictutoring and afterschoolenrichments available to you Become a peer mentor Speak with your child’s teacheror principal on how you cansupport their learning and socialand emotional development Nurture your child’s interestsand propose new courses orprograms you would like to see Attend parent workshops Get to know your child’steacher and share any needsspecific to your child Ask your child about theircollege and career aspirationsFor further information on the Cultivating Excellence initiative, please reach out to Susan Rydz,Deputy of Special Projects at Promise Academy, at susan.rydz@hczpromise.org.Promise Academy Cultivating Excellence 15

Cultivating Excellence Initiative, a collaborative effort which is taking our schools to the next level of consistency and strength. Beginning in 2018, leaders from our schools have participated in an unprecedented effort to implement our five strategic priorities. We have partnered together to improve our school culture,

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