In a southeastern suburb of Providence, RI, where the Providence River meets Mount Hope Bay, lies the Bristol Warren Regional School District (BWRSD). The district serves 3,328 students K-12 across four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. 33% of our students are on free and reduced lunch.
While the Bristol and Warren communities have historically focused on fishing, boat-building, and other marine-related industries– tourism has become increasingly important. In order to support future industries and students in college, careers, and citizenship, we have developed our strategic plan for 2016-2021. Specifically, BWRSD seeks to create vibrant and safe learning environments, engage family and community as partners, prepare students for college and careers, personalize learning for the whole child, and support the ongoing development of excellent educators and professional learning communities.
In order to support these strategies, we developed our Future Ready Program in order to increase access to technology. Since its inception in 2016, Chromebooks have been placed in the hands of all educators, secondary staffers, and students in grades 6-12. Children in elementary school grades 3-5 have access to Chrome carts, and grades K-2 have access to iPads. 100% of all of our students have access to high speed broadband internet and 74% of all students have access to a personal, school-provided device.
Additionally, we participated in Digital Promise’s Real World Learning Challenge Collaborative because we believe our students need exposure to a business community that prepares them for life beyond primary school. We expanded student participation in real world and virtual opportunities to connect students with qualified specialists in specific fields of study that align with classroom curriculum. This allows students to link classroom learning with real world application of the concepts being taught through internships (paid and unpaid), work-based learning, job shadows, and virtual guest speakers using the Nepris platform. Opportunities included participating in a boat-building program for the historic Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, local commercial and governmental internships, online courses, and other project-based learning experiences. We also have access to PrepareRI, an initiative to prepare all Rhode Island youth with the skills they need for jobs that pay. It represents a strategic partnership between the Rhode Island government, private industry leaders, the public education system, universities, and non-profits across the state.
A central part of this is building educational equity within the high school education experience. Everyone is able to participate regardless of constraints such as transportation, access to mentors, or other roadblocks to quality educational experiences. Access to these programs impacts students by giving them real world experiences so that they could make informed decisions regarding career pathways.
Given its relevance to 21st century education, BWRSD is working to expand utilization of real world learning in all content areas, including English and Language Arts (ELA), Math, Science, Visual and Performing Arts, and others. This will require us to expand the Broker role to further increase access to employers and additional partners.