Alma del Mar opens Frederick Douglass campus

Story is published at SouthCoastToday.com

NEW BEDFORD — Late Friday afternoon, several Alma del Mar students went to a station to dip one or two hands in yellow, dark or light blue paint and press it onto two large pieces of cloth that will hang in their new school on Earle Street named after Frederick Douglass.

One of the pieces of cloth read “Learn, lead, serve, succeed” in all capital letters while the other had the name of the campus on it.

Before an official welcome by Principal Taylor DeLoach and Board of Trustees Chairwoman Jan Baptist, a dark blue sparkly “carpet” was rolled out, leading the way to the front doors.

Walking into the new school with his son, first grader Liam and wife Leilannie, Lee Charlton II said the name “means a lot for the community of New Bedford,” and to him personally, as an African American man, in terms of what Douglass stood and fought for.

Douglass lived and voted in New Bedford after he escaped slavery, now remembered as a powerful orator and writer.

The doors of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception’s former school building opened up to a small basketball court where families visited different stations to get information before school starts on Monday morning.

About an hour later, more families were standing in line to get information. Ericka Castellano was one of them.

Castellano said she was “pleasantly surprised” with the school building, adding that she expected something more outdated. She noted signs on the walls that fit with Alma del Mar’s identity, she said.

Her second grader son Christopher initially didn’t make the lottery and was put on the waitlist. Castellano said her son needs a more structured day and she really likes that school uniforms are mandatory. She said uniforms are easier on everyone and eliminates kids getting bullied for what they wear to school.

 

Spokeswoman Becca Kurie told The Standard-Times that over $300,000 worth of renovations were put into the building such as windows, floor tiling, paint and school security measures.

Forty new staff members were hired this year between the two schools, the Douglass campus and the recently renamed flagship Sarah D. Ottiwell campus which is a short walk away.

The school is still working on hiring a sixth grade math teacher, but a veteran teacher will split her time between the two schools for now.

Baptist said she was born in the neighborhood, lived there for 19 years and went to the close-by church. “I still feel that connection, so to see my old digs come alive again for a mission that I believe in so much is very exciting and I’m so happy that you’re going to be our founding group here,” she told families.

DeLoach said staff have been working “tirelessly” to get the building ready. DeLoach, a black woman herself, also noted the campus name. “We cannot wait to help your scholars develop into service-minded leaders just like he (Douglass) was and give back to this wonderful community of New Bedford,” she said.

Danielle Parkman took pictures of her daughter Kannon who’s starting second grade in Sarah Chase’s classroom. They’re both new to New Bedford.

Parkman said she thought the school was “beautiful” and was happy they provided supplies for the students, as Kannon went through a new pencil box in her desk and pulled out notebooks and folders. The campus name, she said, “speaks highly of the school.”

Follow Aimee Chiavaroli on Twitter @AimeeC_SCT

Posted in Ops @ Alma

Alma announces new campus names

Find this story at SouthCoastToday.com

NEW BEDFORD — Alma del Mar will rename both itself and its two campuses.

Its new school, which will open on Monday, will be named after Frederick Douglass, the renowned 19th abolitionist who first lived in New Bedford after he escaped from slavery; its original school, which opened in 2011, will be named after Sarah D. Ottiwell, the district public school whose building Alma first occupied when it opened in the city.

Alma will now be known as Alma del Mar Charter Schools or just Alma del Mar.

The campuses will be referred to the following way, according to Director of Development Becca Kurie: “Alma del Mar: Sarah D. Ottiwell Campus (or Ottiwell Campus for short)” and “Alma del Mar: Frederick Douglass Campus (Or Douglass Campus for short).”

February 2018 marked Frederick Douglass’ 200th birthday. Some have thought there’s a lack of knowledge and appreciation in New Bedford about the African-American leader. Others have suggested that a New Bedford district public school be named after him but that never happened.

The Ottiwell School first opened in 1918 but was closed in 2011. Alma occupied it until 2016 when it was demolished after Alma built its flagship campus on an adjacent North End lot.

Ottiwell taught for nearly 35 years in New Bedford, according to an Alma news release. The second and new Alma campus, temporarily located in Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception’s former school building, is the one that will be named in honor of Douglass.

“I’m proud that our Board chose to name our campuses after two people in the community who represent Alma’s values and commitment to service-minded leadership,” said Jan Baptist, chairperson of Alma’s Board of Trustees.

Executive Director Will Gardner noted that generations of New Bedford children attended the Ottiwell School.

 

“We hope to honor those school experiences while also celebrating the continued use of the site for educating generations to come,” Gardner said in a statement.

Kurie said the name Alma del Mar Charter Schools is not a hint at future plans.

Last year the school applied for 1,188 seats and requested to open two more schools, but it was granted a 594-seat single school instead, after the state education commissioner pulled the plug on a 450-seat neighborhood charter school that Alma had arranged with the city and the New Bedford district school system. Alma did not ask for additional seats this year.

Frederick Douglass’ powerful spoken and written testimony is a fixture in Alma’s curriculum as students across grade levels study his work and life each year, the news release stated.

The Frederick Douglass Campus will open to 200 children in K-2 and 6th grade Aug. 19.

“Frederick Douglass fought for the opportunity to learn to read and write at a time when educating Black people was against the law,” said Lee Blake, president of the New Bedford Historical Society in the Alma press release. “His struggle for freedom and social justice will be an inspiration to our youth who will lead the change the world needs to tackle injustice.”

Follow Aimee Chiavaroli on Twitter @AimeeC_SCT

Posted in Ops @ Alma

Meet Ms. Gibau: Kindergarten Associate Teacher

Image-8Ms. Gibau is an Kindergarten Associate Teacher at the Frederick Douglass Campus.

What made you decide to join the Crew at Alma?

My future goal is to become a Kindergarten teacher. When I learned of the position to become a Kindergarten associate teacher, I knew this was my chance to reach my goal. I know with the help of all of you I can become an amazing Kindergarten teacher.

What do you hope to contribute to Alma?

I hope to bring a fresh start everyday attitude. I love to believe that if you start everyday as a fresh start then the wrongs of yesterday can all be forgiving.

What teacher made a difference in your life, and how?

I had a sixth grade teacher named Ms. Lefever at H. A. Kempton school. Before her, I really struggled in school. She taught me how to improve my grades in a positive manner that never made me fell less than another student in the class. This is when I knew, I wanted to become a teacher to help kids understand that with hard work you can become your best you.

Where did you go to college? What did you like about your college?

I graduated with my Bachelor’s in May of 2018 from Fisher College. I will be going for Master’s starting in September. Fisher College offered many classes to where online and this is what was the best for my family. I loved being able to do school once my family was in bed for the night, so I didn’t have to take too much time away from them.

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is salmon. 

What is your favorite book?

A Child called It

Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew

Meet Ms. Smith: Second Grade Lead Teacher

00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20190625185933965_COVERMs. Smith is a Second Grade Lead Teacher at the Sarah D. Ottiwell Campus.

What made you decide to join the Crew at Alma?

I’ve heard so many positive stories about having a solid support by all Alma-zing staff and administration!

What do you hope to contribute to Alma?

I hope to contribute my love for teaching while being a valuable team player.

What teacher made a difference in your life, and how?

My second grade teacher showed great love and patience for her students.

Where did you go to college? What did you like about your college?

I went to UMass Dartmouth and am currently enrolled in the Master’s program.

What is your favorite food?

Shrimp Alfredo

What is your favorite book?

My favorite book is Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew

Meet Ms. Siegal: Spanish Teacher

hiking in Picos de EuropaMs. Siegal is the Spanish Teacher at the Sarah D. Ottiwell Campus.

What made you decide to join the Crew at Alma?

I love New Bedford and have been hearing such great news about Alma for years, so when I decided to move back to Massachusetts after five years in Spain, I was thrilled for the opportunity to join such a passionate crew of students, families and educators. 

What do you hope to contribute to Alma?

I hope to help students enjoy learning Spanish and see languages as wonderful tools for forming meaningful connections with other people. I also hope to be a supportive team member and have fun getting to know the rest of the Crew.  

What teacher made a difference in your life, and how?

My eight grade Spanish teacher was the first person who made learning a language really fun and exciting for me. She was so enthusiastic, kind and creative – to this day I remember some of her clever mnemonic devices! 

Where did you go to college? What did you like about your college?

I went to Elon University in North Carolina. One of my favorite parts was its location between the beautiful Smoky Mountains and the coast and being able to enjoy both going hiking and to the beach there. 

What is your favorite food?

Kiwi and calamari!

What is your favorite book?

Eva Luna by Isaebel Allende 

Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew

Meet Ms. Santos: School Nurse

Ryley SantosMs. Santos is a Nurse at the Frederick Douglass Campus.

What made you decide to join the Crew at Alma?

I wanted to mix my two passions – children and nursing.

What do you hope to contribute to Alma?

I hope to be a key player of the team and help many children along the way. 

What teacher made a difference in your life, and how?

My fourth grade teacher made a difference in my life at a young age. That year I lost my dad during the school year and I remember very vividly that she did her very best to make me feel comfortable and supported. 

Where did you go to college? What did you like about your college?

I went to UMass Dartmouth and I loved the nursing program and how I could be a commuter there. 

What is your favorite food?

Hotdogs 

What is your favorite book?

My Stolen Life. 

Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew

Meet Ms. Richmond: Fourth Grade Lead Teacher

IMG_2281Ms. Richmond is a Fourth Grade Lead Teacher at the Sarah D. Ottiwell Campus.

What made you decide to join the Crew at Alma?

I wanted to join the Crew at Alma because I strongly believe in the educational practices Alma uses, the mission of achievement that Alma supports, and the passion for lifelong learning that the Crew at Alma exhibit. 

What do you hope to contribute to Alma?

I hope to contribute some of the teaching practices and experiences that I learned while teaching abroad. I also hope to be a mentor to my students and to my colleagues as I believe everyone has something to teach each other. 

What teacher made a difference in your life, and how?

My 10th grade English teacher who had taught my sister the year before and made the effort to pull me aside and develop my confidence in myself as an individual. I remember her telling me- you are not your sister, you are you and you should be proud of that.  

Where did you go to college? What did you like about your college?

I went to school at The University of Vermont and one thing I loved about it was how open-minded and friendly everyone was. People weren’t afraid to be themselves, follow what they believed in, and build connections with people who believed in the same things. 

What is your favorite food?

Oven-Baked Mac and Cheese with bread crumbs on top

What is your favorite book?

What the Dog Saw- Malcom Gladwell

Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew

Meet Ms. Rafferty: Eighth Grade ELA Teacher

IMG_5597Ms. Rafferty is an Eighth Grade Lead Teacher at the Sarah D. Ottiwell Campus.

What made you decide to join the Crew at Alma?

I decided to join the crew at Alma because I feel passionate about the work we do as educators in an urban charter school, and because I was excited for the opportunity to be a part of such a joyful and welcoming community.

What do you hope to contribute to Alma?

I hope to contribute my skills as a teacher of reading and writing.

What teacher made a difference in your life, and how?

A teacher who made a difference in my life was Mr. Hopkins, who was my AP English Literature teacher. He was so incredibly passionate about his subject matter it came to be my passion as well.

Where did you go to college? What did you like about your college?

I went to Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. I liked that RWU had mostly small class sizes, so I was able to work one-on-one with my professors often, and really build relationships with them. I loved it so much I went back for my Masters degree!

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is macaroni and cheese.

What is your favorite book?

My favorite book is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, as well as the Harry Potter series.

Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew

Meet Ms. Ndebumadu: Second Grade Lead Teacher

26171330_1620554608010617_5308937235307207228_oMs. Ndebumadu is a Second Grade Lead Teacher at the Frederick Douglass Campus.

What made you decide to join the Crew at Alma?

Alma cares about the health of their students and their teachers. It also reminded me of home and my college campus. I’m from a small town and I got that feeling. I definitely don’t want to be in the big city anymore. The atmosphere was very calming and encouraging. The closeness was evident, the small population allows you to do wonders with your students, a community where I belong is where I want to be. Ms. DeLoach was also great and her passion ignites the passion in others. My dream is a dream that is no longer deferred. 

What do you hope to contribute to Alma?

Southern hospitality and students who are academically high but also aware of injustices and other narratives outside of the white majority/supremacy narrative.

What teacher made a difference in your life, and how?

Dr. Walker. She pushed me to be more aware of different narratives. She allowed me to be myself and talk about things that I was passionate about. She is still involved in my life mostly by social media but her advice is worth it and timeless. 

Where did you go to college? What did you like about your college?

Converse College. It was an all women’s college so we were pushed to go outside our comfort level on a daily basis. The sense of community and the small population. The things I did at Converse I probably wouldn’t have done at the College of Charleston or another co-ed. 

What is your favorite food?

Rice (different kinds) and chicken. 

What is your favorite book?

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines 

Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew

Meet Ms. Merrill: Director of Talent

IMG-3304Ms. Merrill is the Director of Talent at Alma del Mar Charter Schools.

What made you decide to join the Crew at Alma?

I have worked in urban education for 12 years in Chicago, Boston, Providence and now New Bedford. I am committed to working for a better education for all kids. What made me choose Alma over any other school was the focus on building a strong adult crew. I know that the adults set the tone in a school and make a school a happy, safe, and successful place for kids. It was clear from the very beginning what a passionate, dedicated, and kind staff there is at Alma and I could not wait to be a part of it. 

What do you hope to contribute to Alma?

I hope to find and help develop the best teachers and staff on the planet for our kids.  

What teacher made a difference in your life, and how?

The three teachers who stand out as my favorites were Mr. Tobin (4th grade), Mr. Politelli (AP World History), and Ms. Netcoh (9th grade, 11th grade and 12th grade English). The factors that all three had in common were a wacky sense of humor and exceptionally high standards. Mr. Tobin and Mr. Politelli inspired me to love history and become a history major in college. Ms. Netcoh made me a strong writer and led me to be successful in college and beyond. 

Where did you go to college? What did you like about your college?

I grew up thinking that college meant Boston College because that is where my parents met. Boston College was really the only choice I ever considered and my younger sister followed after me. The most important thing I learned about at B.C. was the Jesuit call to work for social justice and equity and the possibility of education to transform lives.  

What is your favorite food?

Pizza

What is your favorite book?

To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, Harry Potter, and In the Time of the Butterflies.

Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew
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