Chess Masters Bring Home the Trophy!

Hurray for our chess masters who came in 2nd at the Cullman Chess Tournament at PS 11 in Manhtattan! Our students, Hido Faisal, Darwins Brioso, Matthew Forero, and Deoles Guevara came in 2nd in the Junior High-High School team section. In addition, Deoles and Hido won two out of four games while Darwins Brioso finished in 5th and Matthew Forero finished 7th in the individual section.

Growing Two Years!

We're so excited to celebrate our latest news! In this edition, check out our latest results on the Degrees of Reading Power test, a nationally normed close-reading assessment that we use to measure our progress towards our two-year reading goal. You'll notice that our sixth graders grew an average of 7 points between September and January -- nearly surpassing our 2 years goal in only three months! (We better set a more rigorous goal!) 

6th Grade Summary

  • Our 6th graders grew an average of 7 points. The national average is 4 points in one year.  This means that our students grew nearly 2 years in 3 months!

  • The biggest shift was a decrease of students in the first quartile and increase of students in the second quartile.

  • In the fall, 84% of our students were ranked in the first quartile. By the winter that number had decreased to 50%

  • In the fall, 4% of our students were ranked in the second quartile. By the winter, we had increased that more than six fold at 26%.

  • We doubled the number of students reading above grade level in the fourth quartile!

7th Grade Summary

  • Our 7th graders grew an average of 5 points in three months, while the national average is 4 points in one year!

  • The biggest shifts were between the third and fourth quartile and between the first and second quartile. 

  • In the fall almost half of our students were reading three or more years below grade level. Now less than a quarter are.  

  • In the fall 1 out of every 10 of our students were ranked in the fourth quartile, reading above grade level and now 1 out of every 4 is!

  • A third of our seventh graders are now reading at or above grade level. 

 

Humming with Energy

My recent visit to The Highbridge Green School was stunningly impressive.  As a psychologist with 30 years of experience working with children in educational settings, I repeatedly observed a dedicated staff, working enthusiastically and energetically with engaged sixth and seventh grade students.  Mr. Brilliante, the school principal, generously allowed me to sit in on staff meetings, observe several classes in session, tour the facility, and share a lunch with a small group of students, who peppered me with perceptive, sometimes penetrating, questions about being a psychologist working with children.  The immaculate new building almost hums with energy, light, and vitality.  While the challenges of educating these youngsters are certainly daunting, the caring commitment of everyone involved shines through and inspires.  I encourage more supporters of Highbridge Green to arrange a visit and take it all in. - Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D. Psychologist 

Two Years' Worth of Reading Growth in One Year!

Our students made two years’ worth of literacy growth in their first year with us. We couldn’t be prouder.

Two years’ worth of literacy growth on the DRP test has been a major goal all year. We repeated it so often that many of our staff probably got sick of hearing it! At times we wondered whether setting such an ambitious goal was a good idea. But we stayed focused, and so did students, teachers, and parents.

We’re not satisfied with these results. Our students arrived at HBGS three years behind on average. So, even with two years’ worth of growth, most of them are still not where they need to be. Until they are at or above grade level, we won’t be satisfied.

But, for our first year, we couldn’t be happier.

What do the stats mean?

At the beginning of the school year, 83% of our students were reading below the level of the average 6th grader nationally. Now 57% of our students are below average. That may not sound all that encouraging, but a 26-point gain in one year is huge!

More exciting still, at the beginning of the school year, just 6% of our students were in the top quartile of readers among 6th graders nationally. Now it’s 27%. When we started this year, we never would have guessed that we’d see a four-fold increase in the number of our top readers!

What explains all of this growth? We'd point to a few things:

1. Laser-focus on the goal. Every member of the HBGS staff had an unwavering focus on our goal of two years of literacy growth in one year. That meant that literacy was a major area of attention in all subjects. For instance, in Social Studies we ensured that students could make strong evidence-based arguments.

2. Exceptional teachers. Without a doubt, the heart of a great school is great teachers. We are blessed to have some of the best teachers and staff in New York, and we’ve continued to develop everyone’s skills throughout the year.

3. Extended day. Our partnership with the Middle School Quality Initiative, Harvard EdLabs, and WHEDco has been essential to success. The two-plus hours of additional instruction and enrichment are absolutely critical to giving kids a necessary boost.

4. Development of the whole child. We have always believed in developing our students as whole human beings, that joy in learning is essential to growth and engagement. We have focused on building character and fostering community. We believe that there is no conflict between this philosophy and students’ mastery of testable content. They are mutually-reinforcing.

5. Partnership with parents. The Highbridge community has been deeply engaged in our shared work. We have developed personal relationships with every child and every parent, and they have carried our work into their homes.

6. Partnership with supporters. Friends and family from all around the country have contributed essential books, advice, and funds that have made this result possible. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

The work ahead:

For all of our success, some students still have not shown nearly as much growth as we need to see. Our school works with a population that is often seriously disadvantaged, and students bring these disadvantages into school every day. We will work hard over the summer to continue to target students who are struggling to get traction and give them the support they need. We will also collaborate closely with our partners at WHEDco and Harvard EdLabs to refine our strategies for this cohort of kids. Our work is not done until all of our students succeed.

As of September, we will welcome another 6th grade class, while promoting most of this year’s students to 7th grade. Our building will be even livelier. Our staff and student populations will double in size. And we will come closer to fulfilling our mission. We also know that it will be even harder work -- we’re spending the summer preparing for it. 

What this all means:

In the end, this work is about children, not about test scores. We are proud of our students’ growth on literacy tests. But we are far prouder of their growth as human beings. 

We are proud of their growing ability to manage and express their feelings, complicated and adolescent as they sometimes

are. We are proud of their ability to internalize and reflect our G.R.E.E.N. character traits (Grit, Responsibility, Enthusiasm, Empathy, and iNspiration). And we are so proud of their commitment to their families, their community, and their education.

We will keep working hard every day for our students. We know that they will do the same for us.

With Love, Anna & Kyle

Teach For America Honors HBGS

Totally overwhelming.

That's the only way we can describe last night's experience.

Teach For America-New York held its annual gala event at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel last night and featured The Highbridge Green School throughout the evening. TFA's Co-CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard told our school's story to the audience and then shared this amazing video. It was truly overwhelming. And we were so proud of our student Nathanael and his amazing mom Laura. They were the real stars of the evening.

As alumni, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to TFA for introducing us to the field of education, for providing that first step on the path to building The Highbridge Green School. And we continue to owe TFA so much today, as they added roughly half a dozen incredible teachers to our brilliant team, including Arielle Sydnor,Elizabeth Martinez, Anna Staab, Alysa Law, and Brittany Quigg.

Many thanks to Teach For America, Larry Robbins and the other major supporters of TFA, David Levin, our extraordinary teachers and staff, and Nathanael and Laura.

If you want to help students like Nathanael succeed, please consider donating directly to The Highbridge Green School. We rely on the support of friends, family, and those who believe that students like Nathanael deserve a shot at success.

With Love, 
-Kyle & Anna

Amazing to See Their Eyes Light Up

Twenty-three HBGS Reading Olympians recently had the chance to take a field trip to Barnes & Noble, led by Ms. Law (Social Studies, Special Education) and Mr. Barr (Paraprofessional). For some of our students, it was the first visit to a bookstore. It won't be the last! At the end of the trip, every student got to choose one book to take back for their own classroom library.

We were able to do this as a result of the generous contributions of friends and supporters through our Holiday Bookraiser. We and our students are very grateful!

It was amazing to see their eyes light up as they saw all the books, and I think that is when they finally realized what the trip was all about. Several students knew exactly what book they wanted, rushed to the computer to find it, or saw it on a displayed and immediately asked "Ms. Law can I go find a place to read now that I have my book?" That was when I realized what this trip was all about!

~Ms. Law

"You're in a really beautiful place."​

It's been an amazing few weeks, Polar Vortex and all!  So, we wanted to take a moment to share some of the highlights with you. 1) Last Thursday we hosted our second Progress Report Information Celebration Session (our first one was hosted in October). The session was tailored to teach parents how to monitor their children's grades online from our own website (www.highbridgegreen.com/jumprope) whenever they want. Amidst 20-degree weather, we had 72 families turn out for a total of 200 folks. 

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