Education department grant helps Lynn public schools

Connery School

This spring, 111 children at Connery Elementary School in Lynn qualified to participate in the statewide Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (MCBA) program, lending further credence to the turnaround taking place at the school. In May 2009, Connery was one of two schools in Lynn designated ‘Level 4,’ placing it among the state’s most persistent low performing institutions.

“Three years ago,” said Salem State University associate professor of education Michelle Pierce, “Connery Elementary School was considered a ‘failed’ school. I think it's pretty amazing that student participation was so fabulous at Connery this year. Those who think, ‘Oh, those kids won't read,’ have it all wrong. This year, they did!”

Sponsored by Salem State University, the Massachusetts Children's Book Award program, now in its 36th year, is a children's choice award for 4th, 5th and 6th graders across the commonwealth. After reading five books from a master list of 25 titles, students vote for their favorite. The list is compiled from nominations of participating teachers, librarians and interested publishers.

Books for the program at the Connery School were funded through a K-12 Literacy Development Partnership Grant awarded by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to Lynn public schools. The grant is in collaboration with Salem State University’s School of Education under the guidance of associate professors Francesca Pomerantz PhD and Michelle Pierce PhD. The grant funds partnerships between eligible districts and institutions of higher education with expertise in K-12 reading instruction. The goal is to enhance the implementation of effective, research-based instructional practices and to increase the number and percent of students who are proficient readers.

The focus of the grant at the Connery School this year was to build classroom libraries and promote independent reading. Out of 155 4th and 5th graders at Connery, 111 read five or more books from the master list and were eligible to vote. Across the commonwealth, a total of 180 schools and libraries participated this year, with votes cast by 6,987 students.

On Friday, March 30, Connery School hosted a party to celebrate the students’ achievements.

Photo: Some of the 111 Connery School children who participated in the MCBA program, holding books they’ve read.