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Charter school receives national honor for serving the ‘Whole Child’

December 20, 2013

CENTRAL FALLS — Educating “the whole child” is an approach that the Segue Institute for Learning was founded upon five years ago. On Thursday, the grassroots charter middle school on Cowden Street was recognized for its practices with the Rhode Island ASCD’s Whole Child Award.

The ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) is a national community of educators, and the RI branch of ASCD is recognized by the Rhode Island Department of Education. According to ASCD, the Whole Child Award acknowledges schools that have “changed the conversation about education from a focus on narrowly defined academic achievement to one that promotes the development of the whole child: a child who is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.”

The Segue Institute for Learning, which educates children in grades, 6, 7 and 8, had applied for the award and was selected as a recipient. In a morning ceremony held in the school’s gymnasium, a small group of state and local leaders gathered to celebrate the award, joined by the student body and many parents and supporters.

Elizabeth Brito, executive director of RIASCD, said the Whole Child initiative reflects “best practice” that is based on more than just a building and a handful of educators. Rather, it is the type of education that “involves a community coming together, feeling relationships and working together toward a common goal.” She added, “It is exciting for me to see the tenets of that Whole Child initiative right here in this building.”

Rosemary Reilly-Chammat, RIASCD’s Whole Child chairwoman, said that what made Segue’s application stand out was its health education curriculum, a student and family engagement team that helps with safety, and an engaged program the guides student behavior and expectations. She also cited the support given through an advisory program made up of small, student-led groups that foster leadership skills, and an educational challenge centered around performance-based assessment and portfolios.

Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts congratulated the students and staff on behalf of herself and Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

“You, here at Segue, are fulfilling so much of your potential,” she stated. She told the students, “Speaking as a mom, there is nothing more important than education” because “it opens those doors for you.” She added that she and the other top leaders are looking for the Segue students to be engaged and to take their leadership skills “and help build our state. You are our future.”

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa also added his congratulations, and presented the school with a citation. He said that as he looks at the data of student performance at Segue he has become “more and more impressed” by the work going on at the charter school. He noted that the Whole Child Award “recognizes schools that have gone above and beyond academics.”

Angelo Garcia, head of the Segue Institute, thanked the teachers and staff at the school, as well as the many people who work behind the scenes to lend support. He also acknowledged the parents who came out to attend the ceremony, and thanked them for demonstrating an interest in their child's education.

Garcia said that, while not one of the high-profile schools in the state, “Our Segue swagger cannot and will not be diminished,” and his comments drew loud applause and cheers.

Garcia noted that Segue is a homegrown success story that was formed locally, unlike some of the “big box” charter schools that are operated by out-of-town interests.

“We know the kids and the community. We speak the language,” he said.
He added that Segue is planning to add an elementary charter school in the fall.

Follow Donna Kirwan on Twitter@KirwanDonna


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