Alma del Mar to host mobile farm stands beginning June 7

Alma del Mar announces partnership with Coastal Foodshed

Pair to focus on healthy food access with weekly Mobile Farm Stands

NEW BEDFORD – Alma del Mar is thrilled to announce it will partner with Coastal Foodshed to bring a weekly Mobile Farm Stand to its Near North End school beginning in June.

Beginning on Friday, June 7, Coastal Foodshed will use Alma’s field to offer the sale of local, in-season vegetables as well as cooking demonstrations and food tastings. The outdoor Mobile Farm Stand will be held at Alma del Mar every Friday from 3-5 PM this summer and fall.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Alma del Mar to bring local, fresh food to neighborhood families and staff. We were fortunate to partner earlier this year and saw the impact of what food education and access to local food can do for members of the community. We are grateful for the support Alma del Mar has provided to allow us to expand our program,” said Kim Ferreira, Co-Founder of Coastal Foodshed.

Coastal Foodshed is a nonprofit that works to connect people to local food and local farmers. Alma secured grant funding to support its partnership with Coastal Foodshed and ensure the organization will be able to serve even more New Bedford neighborhoods in the coming years.  In addition to managing the New Bedford Farmers Markets, the organization launched a pilot Mobile Farm Stand in July 2018 and sold fresh, local produce in three New Bedford neighborhoods. They also conduct many nutrition education events (year-round) to keep local food in the hands of those who need it most.

This is part of a wider effort for Alma to show service to its neighbors in the Near North End. The school plans to open its doors to a selection of local groups who offer services targeted at youth, healthy food access and English for speakers of other languages at little or not cost to New Bedford families.

“We built this new school not only for our hard-working scholars, but also for our neighbors here in the Near North End,” said Becca Kurie, Development Manager at Alma del Mar. “We have always encouraged community groups to use our beautiful space. Moving forward, we want to be more intentional about opening our doors to the community in ways that will benefit a variety of local groups.”

This initiative is being supported by the Mifflin Memorial Fund, a Boston-based philanthropic group that has supported Alma del Mar since its inception. The Mifflin Memorial Fund gives grants primarily in the human services and educational areas, focusing on low income and minority populations.

About Alma del Mar:

Alma del Mar is a K-8 public school operating under a five-year charter granted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The school is tuition-free and is open to all children in New Bedford. Our mission is to put every one of our scholars on the path to college and to challenge them to be service-minded leaders. We are achieving this mission by providing a highly demanding, highly supportive education to every scholar who walks through our doors. Alma del Mar features a longer school day, a longer school year, high expectations for all scholars, and outstanding teachers from across the country. We currently serve about 450 scholars in grades K-8.

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Alma del Mar recognizes two educators as ‘Master Teachers’

NEW BEDFORD – Two educators at Alma del Mar were recently recognized for their mastery in teaching at the K-8 inclusive public charter school located in the North End of New Bedford.

Alma educators are designated as Master Teacher when they exhibit a strong work ethic which contributes to both tangible results today and a lasting impact into the future. Master Teachers are also successful members of our interdependent crew at Alma del Mar — they not only get great results for scholars, they also contribute to our long-term effort by helping the teachers around them to achieve at higher levels.

Master Teachers help to define what Alma is at its best and what we can be for our scholars in the future. Alma del Mar’s Master Teachers for the 2018-2019 school year are Faustina DePina and Bethany Brown.

Faustina DePina came to Alma del Mar in 2011 as a founding Associate Teacher and rapidly grew into the role of Lead Kindergarten Teacher. Every year Alma’s incoming kindergarten population has become increasingly higher needs as well as having a lower exposure to the English language. Every year, Ms. DePina adapts and improves her practice to ensure those needs are met. She also builds strong relationships with each and every parent, speaking to them often in their native tongue and with deep knowledge about each scholar.  

Bethany Brown joined the Alma del Mar team in 2011 as the school’s founding Physical Education teacher. She built Alma’s Physical Education program from the ground up, ensuring that scholars receive a strong technical foundation in key areas of athletics, movement and health. Scholars in Alma’s Physical Education program are also building lifelong habits for physical fitness.

If you would like to teach alongside incredible educators like Alma’s Master Teachers, apply today! Current openings are listed at almadelmar.org

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Sign-Up for Alma Potluck on May 9th

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Two Alma educators to travel the world to fuel passion for learning

ALMA DEL MAR ANNOUNCES ALMAZING FUND GRANTEES

NEW BEDFORD – Two teachers at Alma del Mar Charter School were recently awarded grant funds for their proposed trips to further their learning around the content they teach.

“At Alma, we invest in our teachers not only as educators, but also as lifelong learners,” said Becca Kurie, Alma del Mar’s Development Manager and Almazing Fund Coordinator. “We enable our teachers to look beyond the typical professional development opportunities and actually explore.”

These adventures, called Almazing Fund trips, are funded entirely by a donor-supported effort to give Alma’s incredible educators the chance to experience the world around them and how it relates to their curriculum. They not only deepen the grantee’s understanding of the curriculum they teach but also fuel their passion for the content.

“We know that when our teachers get excited about the content they’re teaching, our scholars will too,” Kurie said.

The winners of Alma del Mar’s Almazing Fund grants for 2018-19 are:

 

  • Hanna MacDougall, Middle School Specialist

 

Ms. MacDougall will travel to one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, Ecuador. While there, she will explore and learn about a number of topics Alma scholars learn about in Expedition class, including forces of nature, force and motion, the Earth, sun and gravity, world cultures and geography, and water scarcity. Ms. MacDougall will also visit Quito, the capital of Ecuador and home to the first UNESCO World Heritage site.

  • Melissa McLaren, 7th & 8th Grade Science Teacher

Ms. McLaren will spend time along the West Coast exploring key topics from her science curriculum. In San Francisco, she will research the 1906 earthquake, one of the most significant in United States’ history. She hopes to bring back information to engage scholars in learning how geological studies are working toward earthquake predictions. Scholars at Alma already study the layers of the Earth and earth movement over time in Ms. McLaren’s class. She will also travel to Seattle, Washington, to tour the Boeing Facility. Ms. McLaren has already found a way to connect aviation to her science curriculum; she’s excited to learn more about the engineering aspects and then share that new knowledge with scholars.

These Almazing Fund adventures will be taken during the summer of 2019, prior to the start of the 2019-2020 school year. Participating teachers commit to sharing their learning with their colleagues through a presentation or other means of dissemination.

About Alma del Mar:

Alma del Mar is a public charter school serving New Bedford. Our mission is to put every one of our scholars on the path to college and to challenge them to be service-minded leaders. We are achieving this mission by providing a highly demanding, highly supportive education to every scholar who walks through our doors. Alma del Mar features a longer school day, a longer school year, high expectations for all scholars, and outstanding teachers from across the country. We currently serve about 450 scholars in grades K-8.

Posted in Alma Profiles

Alma Board of Trustees approves agreement with City of New Bedford

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 19, 2019

NEW BEDFORD – Alma del Mar’s Board of Trustees voted Monday evening to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of New Bedford to open a new, neighborhood-enrolled charter public school that will grow over four years to serve 450 children in grades K-8.

In January, Alma received approval from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to open a new charter public school in New Bedford. Officials from Alma, the City of New Bedford and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education have negotiated this unique MOU to eventually operate the new school at the former Kempton Elementary School.

“This agreement represents an incredible opportunity for New Bedford families and students. We are excited to forge ahead in collaboration with Superintendent Thomas Anderson to support great schools for all children in our city,” said Alma Board Chair Jan Baptist.

The deal is still pending various city and state approvals. If all approvals are received, Alma plans to open at the former Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception school building this August and will initially serve 200 students in grades K, 1, 2, and 6. This new school will grow over four years to serve 450 children in grades K-8 who are enrolled from the new zone drawn by NBPS around the former Horatio A. Kempton School.

The school will serve as Alma’s temporary home while the now-closed Kempton School undergoes renovations to ensure it is a safe and welcoming space for students. If city approvals are granted, the City of New Bedford would convey the Kempton to Alma del Mar later this spring.

“I am thrilled by this unique collaboration between the City in which I spent my professional career and a school that I believe in wholeheartedly,” said Martha Kay, a member of Alma’s Board of Trustees. “It is exciting to see these two working together for the good of our community and, just as importantly, the benefit of our children.”

Alma trustees are volunteers who serve three-year terms. As members of the Alma del Mar Board of Trustees, each trustee advocates on behalf of the 450 New Bedford children that we have committed to serve and put on a college trajectory.

Alma’s Board of Trustee members are: Jan Baptist (Chair), Martha Kay, Gail Fortes, Maria Rosario, Chris Arnold, Lucile Hicks, Christopher Bator, Bronwen Cunningham, David Eckert and John Polk.

About Alma del Mar:

Alma del Mar is a K-8 public school operating under a five-year charter granted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The school is tuition-free. Alma’s mission is to put every one of our scholars on the path to college and to challenge them to be service-minded leaders. We are achieving this mission by providing a highly demanding, highly supportive education to every scholar who walks through our doors. Alma del Mar features a longer school day, a longer school year, high expectations for all scholars, and outstanding teachers from across the country. Alma currently serves about 450 scholars in grades K-8.

Posted in Ops @ Alma

Alma announces plans for temporary site for new school

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 13, 2019

 

NEW BEDFORD – Alma del Mar has secured temporary space for its new charter public school at the former Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception school building in the Near North End section of the city.

The school will serve as Alma’s temporary home while the now-closed Kempton School undergoes renovations to ensure it is a safe and welcoming space for students. If city approvals are granted, the City of New Bedford would convey the Kempton to Alma del Mar later this spring.

Alma’s temporary space, located at 136 Earle Street and down the street from Alma’s flagship school, includes 12 classrooms, a gymnasium and stage.

“We have been preparing to open a new school and welcome 200 new scholars into the Alma community for several months, but until the Kempton building is ready, we need temporary space,” Gardner added. “We are looking forward to when we will be able to move into our permanent home at the former Kempton school.”

“We are grateful to Father Reis and the team at Immaculate Conception and the Diocese of Fall River for opening their doors to our growing school community,” said Will Gardner, Executive Director at Alma del Mar. “The features and condition of the space, as well as its proximity to our current school campus, make it the perfect temporary home for our new school.”

In January, Alma received approval from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to open a new charter school in the city. Alma and the city have been negotiating a unique agreement to operate the new school at the old Kempton site pending various city and state approvals.

If all approvals are received, Alma plans to open at the Immaculate Conception site this August and will initially serve 200 students. This new school will grow over four years to serve 450 children in grades K-8 who are enrolled from the district’s former Kempton neighborhood.

After the Kempton property is transferred, Alma’s facilities team will conduct a round of thorough site inspections to determine the repair and improvement needs of the school. Findings from an initial site visit in early February included significant water damage and the need for a new boiler. A large addition will also need to be constructed on the property so that Alma may eventually serve 450 children at the school.

Alma will unveil revitalization plans for the Kempton property later this spring.

About Alma del Mar:

Alma del Mar is a K-8 public school operating under a five-year charter granted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The school is tuition-free and is open to all children in New Bedford. Our mission is to put every one of our scholars on the path to college and to challenge them to be service-minded leaders. We are achieving this mission by providing a highly demanding, highly supportive education to every scholar who walks through our doors. Alma del Mar features a longer school day, a longer school year, high expectations for all scholars, and outstanding teachers from across the country. We currently serve about 450 scholars in grades K-8 at our flagship school located at 515 Belleville Avenue.

Posted in Ops @ Alma

Alma del Mar Enrollment Lottery Draws Nearly 750 Applications

Kindergarten teacher Grace Stanford congradulates four year old Mielyse Gonzalez on being accepted to the kindergarten class during the Alma del Mar electronic lottery. [DAVID W. OLIVEIRA/STANDARD-TIMES SPECIAL/SCMG]

Kindergarten teacher Grace Stanford congratulates four year old Mielyse Gonzalez on being accepted to the kindergarten class during the Alma del Mar electronic lottery.
[DAVID W. OLIVEIRA/STANDARD-TIMES SPECIAL/SCMG]

New Bedford (February 28, 2019)Alma del Mar Charter School held their enrollment lottery Wednesday night with more than 100 hopeful family, friends and children in attendance. The lottery, held for the 2019-2020 school year, attracted 748 applications – a 35 percent increase over last year’s application cycle.

Alma del Mar received 198 applications for 45 available seats for next year’s kindergarten cohort. The school also received 550 applications for grades 1-8, where there are currently no openings.

WBSM host Phil Paleologos joined Alma del Mar staff to help conduct the annual enrollment lottery. Before he pressed the button to initiate the electronic process, he thanked families for their commitment to their children: “As a parent, I can’t think of anything more important than what you’re doing right now.”

Mr. Paleologos also asked the crowd to cheer for the incoming Class of 2036, which is how next year’s kindergarten class will be referenced as 2036 is the year the children would graduate from college.

This lottery was held for Alma’s flagship school at 515 Belleville Avenue, which currently serves 450 scholars in grades K-8. Alma was recently approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to add another K-8 school in New Bedford. An enrollment plan is being developed for this new campus.

Across the state, these lotteries are emotional and frustrating events for families, who face long odds because of limited openings set by state law. Since applicants usually far outnumber available seats, charter enrollment is determined by blind lottery. By law, enrollment lotteries are held to determine which children can enroll.

About Alma del Mar:

Alma del Mar is a K-8 public school operating under a five-year charter granted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The school is tuition-free and is open to all children in New Bedford. Our mission is to put every one of our scholars on the path to college and to challenge them to be service-minded leaders. We are achieving this mission by providing a highly demanding, highly supportive education to every scholar who walks through our doors. Alma del Mar features a longer school day, a longer school year, high expectations for all scholars, and outstanding teachers from across the country. We currently serve about 450 scholars in grades K-8.

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Read Will Gardner’s full remarks to New Bedford School Committee

Below is the full statement that Executive Director Will Gardner made before the New Bedford School Committee during its regular meeting on February 11, 2019:

My name is Will Gardner and I am the founder and Executive Director of Alma del Mar. I am here to speak about the agreement between myself, Mayor Mitchell and Commissioner Riley to move forward in creating a first of its kind neighborhood enrollment Commonwealth Charter school.

Like any compromise, this deal is far from perfect. Voices from the extremes of various ideological camps will of course express their displeasure. School choice purists hate the lack of a lottery system. Those who believe that not even quality charter schools should exist decry any growth of any public school that is outside of the centralized district system.

But the job of this school committee and other decision makers is to listen to families, not special interests. What do New Bedford families want?

First and foremost, New Bedford families want good schools. They don’t care about a school’s governance model— district schools, public charter schools, innovation schools, vocational technical schools— they just want their kids to have access to the best possible education.

Alma is a good school. We are one of many good schools in this city. Though we’re not perfect and we’re continually improving, Alma’s results, rates of family satisfaction and the analysis of state decision makers attest that the hard work of our teachers and scholars has made our school a success. By the time they reach middle school, our scholars significantly outperform their citywide peers. It’s due to these strong results that the state Board of Education voted overwhelmingly to approve our opening a second campus.

Although we are continuing to work out the details of how the neighborhood model will work, (it’s never been done before) whether we add an additional campus is no longer up for debate.

New Bedford families want good schools and this agreement allows us to create another one.

In addition to good schools, New Bedford families ideally want good schools that are close to home. This is where, from Alma’s perspective, the neighborhood model of Commonwealth charter is particularly appealing. By creating the next Alma campus as a neighborhood school, we’ll remove the barrier of a lottery for families. This gives us greater ability to build relationships with our new families through focused outreach within specific neighborhoods.

As part of this agreement, you have been asked to initiate the transfer of the former Kempton School property to Alma for the purposes of creating this new neighborhood school. We are prepared to take a damaged, 100 year old building and—as we’ve done before and without using any MSBA funds— raise the money to beautifully restore it. We will bring life back to an empty lot and prevent another empty building from becoming an eyesore and liability. This is a win for everyone.

Our front desk has already been flooded with calls from excited families who live near Kempton and want to know when they’ll be able to enroll their kids at our next campus. We can’t wait to meet these families and begin building strong relationships with them.

As I understand it from the district’s perspective, this neighborhood model also makes it easier to adjust to any shifts of enrollment brought about by creating a new school for families. Rather than the scattered changes created by a random lottery, neighborhood assignment allows greater control, predictability and flexibility for the district as you plan for the future. Given this, Alma’s growth can more easily be taken into account as the Superintendent goes about the challenging work of re-zoning district schools.

Complex problems are not best solved by ideologues hurling stones at each other from a distance. Progress on these challenges can come when interested parties, at a local level, sit down and see if they can find common ground. At a time when our national leaders can seem incapable of reasoned compromise, we owe it to New Bedford families to try.

Posted in Ops @ Alma

Bringing local food to Alma del Mar!

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We are thrilled to announce that we are partnering with Coastal Foodshed to bring locally-sourced, fresh produce to the Alma community! The mobile farm stand will be held in our Community Room from 1:30-3:15 pm on Friday, Feb. 8. They will also provide live cooking demos and a tasting! YUM!

See you there!

Posted in Ops @ Alma

State approves Alma del Mar/City of New Bedford expansion partnership

This morning, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 9-1 in favor of Alma del Mar expanding by 450 scholars in an innovative new partnership with the City of New Bedford.

Below is Executive Director Will Gardner’s full statement to the Board:

Thank you to the board for having me and a special thank you to the Commissioner for really having the boldness to enter what I know is an extremely difficult issue, and to facilitate a compromise that I think all of us believe will be in the best interest of kids in New Bedford. I’d also like to thank my counterparts Mayor Mitchell and Superintendent Anderson for their willingness to come to the table on this agreement and their willingness to think outside the box to hopefully create something that is going to be really great and also aligned with our common vision.

My name is Will Gardner, I’m the executive director and founder of Alma del Mar. When we first began work on Alma del Mar, I had founded it alongside a group of community leaders and concerned families and educators. I was working at the time at middle schools in the district in New Bedford. At the time there was great concern about the performance of these middle schools, the high school and other schools in the district. That concern remains, despite the progress we’ve made as a city. At the time, we believed that the best way to improve outcomes for the kids we were serving at that middle school level would be to start in kinder and to provide the kind of high demand, high support education, rich in content, that would lead to them being on the path to college.

We were chartered in 2011 and opened with 120 scholars in grades K-2. We’ve grown since then to serve nearly 450 scholars in grades K-8. Our middle schoolers are now the top performing students in the city. They outperform many students in the state as well as many of their suburban peers.

We’ve become known for serving English Language Learners especially well and we’ve also been cited by the Department for our exemplary work with family engagement. Among many things we do, we believe that relationships drive our success. Examples of what we do to build those relationships are: We start the year by doing a home visit for every single one of our scholars including those who are returning. We give cell phones to all of our staff members so that they are able to be in frequent contact with and put plenty of money in the bank in those relationships with families and that’s led to a lot of success.

It’s for this reason in particular that we are really interested in this innovative proposal before you. We believe that this neighborhood model of a charter school would enable us to magnify this strength we have in serving families and focus it on a targeted geographical area. We’re excited about this and we can’t wait to begin this work.

We’re also excited about this proposal because it’s in line with the vision that Superintendent Anderson and Mayor Mitchell have for the district and given that we believe it opens even more doors for further collaboration in the future. We believe we can bring a lot of resources to bare on turning around the district in the years to come. Along with Superintendent Anderson and Mayor Mitchell, I share a vision that very soon, as soon as possible, every family in New Bedford will be surrounded by high quality, high performing school options. We believe that this proposal is one important step toward that day. I ask that all of you on the board support this work and this important step that we are making together. Thank you.

Posted in Ops @ Alma
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