SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 5, 2013

Column: 'The Bowditch' is a school with pride

Victoria Shams
The Salem News

---- — Ready to claim a distinctive position in the Salem school district, Nathaniel Bowditch School opened its doors in 2001. It shelters a classic and a dual language program with a diverse population. Teachers, parents, students and staff make this school unique. Here, we celebrate diversity, students’ growth and success. We promote learning Spanish as a second language. We currently have an enrollment of 470 students.

We started the 2012-2013 school year with a survey, whereby we learned that the staff wanted to be respected, taken into consideration, integrated and informed. We realized how hard they have been working to produce materials and curriculum without rewards or recognition. This realization sparked us to probe the current state of the school and staff within the community.

How to help everyone feel trusted, important, accepted and accountable? How to help everyone open their heart and believe that a new horizon was in its way embracing them? How to help and restore the trust and the image of the school? How to help the school reclaim its position in the community? How to put together all the pieces? These and other questions kept surrounding our heads, plans and efforts. They were a very important part of our challenges as administrators, and we take them with pride and excitement knowing that every member of our school community will be by our side all the way.

As we came on board, we anticipated a year marked by enthusiasm and a sense of empowerment within the school and the community. Throughout the numerous challenges we faced, and continue to face, the parents, along with teachers, have been supporting and working with us responding and embracing our style, dreams and philosophy.

The vibrant group of teachers at Nathaniel Bowditch School goes far and beyond to meet the needs of the students. They are the gear responsible to shape, guide and motivate each student. They work unlimited hours and update themselves with the newest information and strategies available in order to embrace every challenge. A very commanding feature is that our teachers take these challenges with love and respect. We take this challenge with pride and excitement knowing that every member of our school community will be by our side all the way.

We have a great multicultural support staff, a strong and committed PTO, a very proactive and full-of-great-ideas School Committee, and a new assistant principal. We have pledged to provide every child with the highest level of education, as well as a safe, nurturing, engaging and caring environment filled with lessons, activities and programs that will support learning. Therefore fostering a sense of commitment and success.

This sense of community and success will keep us together as we embrace a series of initiatives that the Salem Public Schools is putting in place. These initiatives foster research and development of strategies, data analysis and new directions to improve teaching and learning across the curriculum. The SPS is reaching to the top through many different paths and working with a new set of goals that will allow every student to grow and every teacher to revisit teaching until every student learns it right.

Nathaniel Bowditch School is shining and regaining its position in the community, welcoming and increasing the number of parents who participate and help in the activities organized by the school. We are renewing partnerships and collaboration with universities, schools, businesses, service agencies and government institutions. Our students are participating in joint initiatives and programs all over Salem, such as the: Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, Salem CyberSpace, PEM, The House of the Seven Gables, National Parks, in-house Camp Fire Program, the New England Aquarium, the Science Museum and many others. These resources help our students to connect themselves in many ways with the world.

We have also partnered with groups that support parental growth to build stronger families. Bringing our community together, working hand in hand with its members, helping and assisting them in identifying their needs, and getting answers for their questions is making of Nathaniel Bowditch School the school we dreamed.

We have many reasons to celebrate our Nathaniel Bowditch School, or as we call it, “The Bowditch.” We declare to have a school with pride, a sense of community and support that will help us all to continue to learn and grow from the experiences each year holds.

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Victoria Shams is interim principal of Salem’s Nathaniel Bowditch School. This is one in a series of columns from the Community Advisory Board for the Salem schools.