Guided Pathways in Rural Community Colleges: Equity and Opportunity

The Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) has recently started work with the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement (NCII) on its Rural Guided Pathways Project. Over 3 years, NCII is partnering with 16 rural community colleges to implement a guided pathways approach to their educational efforts, and NCII has asked ISA’s Abner Oakes to be a K-12 subject matter expert. The colleges bring a variety of community partners with them, and most asked school and school district personnel in their regions to join them for this work.

ISA is excited about this work for its focus on equity. The demographics of rural colleges are changing. Many of the young people who attend them are representative of the historically underserved and underachieving students whom ISA has prioritized during its 30 years of work with schools and school districts. The guided pathways work allows ISA to apply our same thinking to this next stage of education for these students.

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Coaches’ Corner: ISA’s Sabriya Dempsey

ISA coach Sabriya Dempsey began her career in Philadelphia teaching both science and math to middle and high school students. In her next role, she conducted teacher evaluations for the District of Columbia Public Schools before returning to Philadelphia to coach science, math, and career and technical education (CTE) teachers in ISA schools in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York; she also supports preservice and inservice teachers in Philadelphia schools. Sabriya enjoys working with teachers and students as they make connections between their learning in the classroom and the world outside of school.

What do you enjoy most about your coaching work?

I need to see teachers connecting with their students and supporting their development of a love for science and math. It is rewarding to work in classrooms and to be part of the process of making learning meaningful. Helping teachers reach their goals as they help their students reach their own goals is a great experience. We all work together to make connections and enable growth for the school community. We all learn through our work together.

What was your most memorable moment with a student or students when you were teaching?

I was working on a robotics project, a partnership between a magnet science high school and a CTE school. It was wonderful to see the students work together and respect the skills and knowledge of everyone on the team. They completed the project successfully, and it led to students receiving internships, scholarships, and job offers. Students worked academically and made meaningful connections between their learning and the world outside of school. And it was fun. All in all, an ideal learning experience.

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey

From the Learning Policy Institute: Building School Communities for Students Living in Deep Poverty

In this newsletter, we share a report from the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) called Building School Communities for Students Living in Deep Poverty.

As LPI writes, “Families living in deep poverty face material, social, and emotional hardships: They suffer from food shortages, unemployment, unstable housing, inadequate medical care, electrical shutoffs, and, often, isolation. These hardships typically impact Black and Indigenous families more profoundly than white families, due to a long history of discrimination that has deprived Black citizens and Native Americans of property, education, and services.

“To meet the learning and social-emotional needs of children living in deep poverty, this report focuses on three strategies that can be enacted in schools:

  1. Address funding adequacy and equity.
  2. Develop community schools and partnerships.
  3. Develop a whole child teaching and learning culture.

“While education alone cannot eliminate childhood deep poverty, it is a key component for a comprehensive approach to building an equal-opportunity society.”

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New Blog Post: Read About ISA’s Nigel Pugh

Nigel is ISA’s liaison in New York City after working for 40 years as a teacher of English, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent for the Inner London Education Authority and the New York City Department of Education (NYC DoE).

Nigel was founding principal of the Queens High School of Teaching, then an ISA school, in 2003. Since then, he has been the principal of a successful turnaround school in Manhattan and supported 10 professional networks in the NYC DoE central office that provided services and supports to 355 NYC schools pre-K through 12. Nigel has mentored many future leaders through the NYC Leadership Academy and taught future leaders through the Principals’ Institute at Bank Street College of Education. He has considerable experience in leadership support, facilitative leadership, creation of new schools, designing inclusive environments for students with disabilities and other nontypical students, addressing the disproportional suspension of young men of color, and supporting LGBTQ+ students and adults in educational settings.

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