FREE April Vacation Program: Engaged Classrooms Four-Day Institute

The Massachusetts Teachers Association’s Division of Training & Professional Learning, with the support of a grant from the NEA is proud to partner with Engaging Schools to offer their four-day Engaged Classrooms Institute to MTA members for FREE. The program will run April 16 to 19 in Worcester.

This four-day institute prepares teachers to create classrooms where students feel safe, cared for and challenged to think, create and perform.

This program is designed for early-career and experienced teachers in grades 7 through 12, instructional coaches and department heads responsible for supporting teacher growth and development, and assistant principals.

Participating educators will develop and improve upon the following understandings, strategies and structures:

  • Strong and Caring Teacher Presence
  • Personalized Relationships
  • Instructional Organization
  • Engaging and Rigorous Learning Protocols
  • Unit Planning Structures
  • Academic and Behavioral Supports and Interventions
  • Restorative and Accountable Discipline
  • Collegial Collaboration

Participants may earn up to 28 PDPs for free or 2 Graduate Credits from Fitchburg State University for $255 (Payable to FSU. Enrollment materials will be available at the first session.).

Learn more about the program and register at

Special Ed PDP Series


Special Education


~ ~Professional Development Series~ ~

#1 Executive Functioning:  Thursday March 21

Pamela Ely, The Ely Center

#2 Dyslexia: Wednesday March 27

Laura Velazquez, Friend’s Academy Sally Borden Program

#3 Mindfulness:  Wednesday April 10

Julie Paquette, The Mindful Collaborative

#4:   Writing Goals and Objectives Thursday May 2

Allan Blume, Educational Consultant

#5 Introduction to Special Education:  Wednesday May 8

Kim Bettencourt, Executive Director of Special Education/Student Services

Sandi Ford, Special Education Instructional Supervisor

Wendy Miranda, Special Education Clinical Supervisor

Participants must attend all 5 sessions and complete additional assignments to receive the 15 PDPs in Special Education

All sessions will be held from 3:00-5:00 in Room 224 at PRAB

Registration is now open on SMART PD

New Bedford Public Schools must not be extorted

State Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley has rolled a proverbial Trojan horse into New Bedford with his plan to allow expansion of the Alma del Mar charter school. This scheme hands over public assets at no charge to a private company and carves out a neighborhood district that will automatically feed students into the charter school.

Mr. Riley’s deal is not only bad for New Bedford, it is bad for public schools across the state. They will become the targets of this new approach to aid and abet the growth of charter schools,even though voters overwhelmingly defeated a 2016 ballot question that sought a massive charter school expansion in Massachusetts.

The arguments and issues raised in 2016 have not changed. Charter schools are private businesses with no oversight by democratically elected officials — even though they take away public funds from the public schools that educate all children.

Proponents of the Alma del Mar plan are calling it a compromise. In reality, it is extortion. 

Alma del Mar wanted to expand by 1,188 seats. Swift and loud community outcry followed. From parents to elected leaders, the community’s message was clear: Such an expansion would drain $15 million annually from the New Bedford Public Schools, causing catastrophic harm to the city.

Mr. Riley and Alma del Mar CEO Will Gardner concocted a plan that, if implemented, would allow the charter school to expand by 450 seats. The city must hand over the closed Kempton school building plus the land adjacent to it and create a “neighborhood zone” from which students are automatically enrolled in the school, thus doing away with thcitywide admissions lottery.

At the Jan. 22 meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Mr. Riley set a 45-day timeline for ironing out the details of this plan. If this fails, he will take it off the table and grant Alma del Mar an additional 594 seats.

So is this about providing educational opportunities for the children of New Bedford or threatening a community into bending to the will of the charter school industry, which has the robust support of the administration of Governor Charlie Baker.

Mr. Gardner, who has always based his desire to expand his business empire on the claim that he has a long waiting list of applicants, seems quite willing to ignore those families if given the proper economic enticements of a free building and a guaranteed pool of students.

And what does New Bedford gain from this deal? Nothing, unless you consider losing less money than originally feared a victory. And we should not.

Here are some facts: 

• Roughly one-third of the teachers currently at Alma del Mar are not licensed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
• Alma del Mar has a very high suspension rate. Many of its students, primarily those with a high level of needs, are sent back to the New Bedford Public Schools. 
• There is no transparency about what is happening in the school, even though it takes public funds for its operation.

This plan still needs the approval of state legislators and local officials. The New Bedford Educators Association urges our locally elected leaders to reject any charter school expansion and encourages them to speak out against any form of extortion from the DESE.

As Massachusetts embarks on its first serious effort in more than 25 years to improve funding for public education, let’s honor the will of the voters and put an end to the practice of propping up the charter school model. Let’s instead focus on creating public schools across the state that meet the needs of every student and family.

Lou St. John

New Bedford Educators Association