|Programs & Partnerships|
Lawrence Family Development Charter School
Programs and Partnerships
that make our school a special place to teach – to learn – to volunteer
Lawrence Family Development Charter School is open Monday through Friday, Last week in August through June from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. The core academic day is 7 hours: 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. The following programs are integrated into the school day providing essential skills for high academic achievement and expanded opportunities and enrichment to foster the development of the whole child.
Lawrence Family Development Charter School received approval from the Massachusetts Board of Education in 2005 to open an early-kindergarten program, enrolling four-year-old students in a full-day, comprehensive program. K-1 opened in 2006 in a newly-renovated facility housing four classrooms with fifteen students, each staffed by one certified teacher and one paraprofessional. In 2010, LFDCS was approved to expand our enrollment from 600 students to 800 students over the next 10 years. Due to the increase in students, in 2012 we opened the Academy for Early Academic Preparation, located at 10 Railroad Street, which houses K-1, K-2 and Grade 1. Extensive language development, phonemic awareness and number sense are complemented by learning and play centers, music, art, fitness and Spanish. A secure welcoming environment builds strong foundational skills for transition to K-2.
Students who complete K-1 transfer to K-2, a full-day academic program aligned with Mass. Curriculum Frameworks. Ready to learn at an accelerated pace, K-2 students are introduced to Reading First and technology, advancing in oral fluency and reading. A full program of English and Spanish language instruction, supporting our dual-language mission, as well as mathematics, art, music and physical education continue the advantages of a coordinated two-year program. Students are grouped in classes of twenty, each with a certified teacher and a paraprofessional.
Reading First is a federally-funded program, administered by LFDCS, putting proven methods of early reading instruction in classrooms to ensure that each child learns to read well by the completion of third grade. LFDCS was awarded a six-year competitive grant in 2003 and has been working to improve student achievement through the successful implementation of reading instruction using a scientifically-researched core program (Harcourt) with extensive coaching and consistent progress monitoring. LFDCS began to show consistent growth and achievement in 2006-2007. In each classroom in Kindergarten through grade 4, our teachers involve students in the five essential components of reading: phonemic awareness, systematic phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency and reading comprehension. Students have an uninterrupted block of 90 minutes of instruction; those having difficulty, an additional 30 minutes a day. Student progress is monitored monthly using Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and by Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GRADE), three times annually. Students are in needs-based groups for specific attention to gaps in reading. In 2006-2007, the Reading First model at LFDCS was recognized by state reviewers and expanded to grades 5 & 6.
“Read to Succeed” was created to foster and support the “sixth component” of a balanced literacy program—motivation, to foster and advance an intrinsic love of reading in students at LFDCS. Students read books independently or with their families and complete a story map which documents their understanding of the completed book. Students earn 1 point for every five pages read. Weekly Read to Succeed winners at each grade level are announced on the intercom each Friday, and monthly assemblies recognize all students’ reading accomplishments with Read to Succeed certificates and books!
LFDCS joins schools across the country the first week of March to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss (Massachusetts born children’s author, Theodore Geisel) and to foster a love of reading to students. This tradition, organized by the Reading and Title One Coordinators, invites hundreds of community volunteers to our school to read to individuals or small groups of children, sharing their love of reading and its importance in life. Elected officials, police and fire officials, board members, bankers, business leaders, YouthBuild-Lawrence members, grade eight students and friends and families of LFDCS volunteer to read in assigned time blocks—energizing our school community with their presence and enthusiasm for reading. Each child in K-1, K-2 and grades 1 receive a hard bound copy of a Dr. Seuss book..
Click here to check out the photos from this past year's Read Across America!
Reading Next, the 2004 national report that assessed the state of adolescent literacy, made recommendations to address the primary challenges to strong reading comprehension at middle grades and high school. LFDCS has received a competitive state grant to implement strategies at our Upper School to increase direct reading instruction time and to integrate reading for understanding into the goals and expectations of every content area. LFDCS’ Reading Next Program includes teacher teams that meet regularly to align instruction, extended time for literacy, library access and daily SSR (Sustained Silent Reading), strategic tutoring and intensive writing. This program supports our school-wide literacy goal: “Learning to Read—Reading to Learn.”
LFDCS is committed to providing access for all students to quality education in the least restrictive setting. We offer an inclusion model in which students identified with specific learning needs are educated among their peers, with requisite support and modifications provided by certified Special Education teachers. A team of educators, including a director, teachers and paraprofessionals, implement curriculum to assist students in achieving individual goals. External support for speech and occupational therapy and behavior management address specific needs, sometimes in a separate setting. The Special Education program is supported by a strong PAC (Parent Advisory Council) and survey results of parents indicated high levels of satisfaction with program delivery, participation and results.
LFDCS is committed to the development and implementation of effective practices to support language acquisition and academic fluency in English and Spanish for all students. Dual-language fluency—building on the first language of Spanish while supporting proficiency in English—utilizes best practices to meet our priority funding goal.
An evolving Sheltered English Immersion model, supporting vocabulary and content development in all subjects daily, and an academic Spanish language curriculum one period each day taught by native language educators supports parallel skills in two languages. All language instructors (English and Spanish) use Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks ELA standards to create lesson plans.
LFDCS has relied on significant research over time, particularly that of Wayne Thomas and Virginia Collier of George Mason University which indicates increased cognitive development through rigorous exposure to two languages from the earliest grades.
LFDCS enrolls a student population that is 99% Hispanic. The overwhelming majority enrolling in kindergarten rank Spanish as their first or home language, necessitating a significant investment of personnel, resources and study in English Language Acquisition, particularly vocabulary development. Staff provides vocabulary-rich instructional support enhanced by visuals to increase vocabulary, comprehension and confidence. LFDCS is committed to the dual-language priority of our school (see above) and the mandates of English proficiency of the Massachusetts Department of Education. Our program for English Language Learners (ELL), staffed by a certified educator and trained paraprofessionals includes annual Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment (MEPA) and Massachusetts English Language Assessment-Oral (MELA-O) testing as well as training/certification of all teaching staff in the four categories of SEI (Sheltered English Immersion). LFDCS has performed with distinction in the 2006 and 2007 MEPA tests for ELL students, transitioning better than 90% of all students out of English as a Second Language (ESL) within 2 years and outperforming the state targets in all categories.
LFDCS recognizes the importance of preparing our students for their future through the integration of technology in our school and curriculum. Since our founding, computer labs and the skills they foster were foremost in our priorities. As both the school and technology move forward, our technology plan has evolved to incorporate computers in every classroom, as well as learning centers for research and remediation. At present, this includes a 15-station lab for grades 5-8, a research center in our internet-connected library and a new computer lab for grades 1-4.
LFDCS values the arts as a meaningful and essential component in the education and development of children. Participation in the arts opens children’s worlds and minds, exposes them to cultures and offers them opportunities to develop skills which enrich their lives. Art and music curricula at LFDCS are offered to all students K-1 through grade 8 by full-time, qualified art and music instructors. Following the arts standards established by Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, children are exposed to diverse arts media and music expressions. Art and music are also offered in after school and summer enrichment and through an extraordinary 12-year partnership with Phillips Academy Andover. Students in grades 3-8 learn and practice violin/cello each week with one-on-one student tutors from the Chamber Orchestra.
Every grade level attends at least one professional theatrical performance annually including Boston Ballets’ Nutcracker, American Repertory Theatre and North Shore Music Theatre. A music room and instrument practice center and art room at the Upper School has expanded our programs.
Our investment in a new gymnasium continues LFDCS’s commitment to the health and fitness of our students. Students in all grades participate in a two-hour physical education session weekly and are introduced to fitness, stretching, strengthening of muscles and breathing. Students learn individual and team fitness routines as well as team sports and sportsmanship. After-school fitness activities include: soccer, a running club, Project Adventure, gymnastics (Youth Development Organizations partnership) and league basketball for girls and boys in grades 5-8.
LFDCS offers a special teambuilding activity for students in grades 7 and 8 in place of academic classes the first two days of school. This program introduces students to their grade-level teaching team as they participate in two full days of “outward bound” leadership challenges. These activities are intended to help students learn about classmates, teachers and themselves through lessons in building trust and friendships and building a grade-level team of students and teachers that work, learn and succeed together. The goal of the program is to establish, right from day one of the school year, the importance of communication, working together, respecting each others’ views and opinions, and to successfully complete the tasks assigned as a team. Examples of day-long adventures include: rock climbing at Vertical Dreams, hiking to the pinnacle of Wachusett Mountain or Mt. Monadnock, uncovering history in Lawrence or uncovering paths and strategies in the Maze or the Tomb!
Guidance Placement: Successful Transition to High School
LFDCS invests in the futures of our graduates through our Guidance Placement Program. The Placement Counselor works with every student in grades 7 and 8 and their families to understand the process of making the transition from LFDCS to high school and the many options and opportunities they may pursue. Summer and school-year workshops in SSAT prep and partnerships with area private secondary school and youth organizations help connect our students to individuals and interests to broaden their experiences and vision. Connections to after school and summer enrichment, coordinated with the Placement Office, introduce students to journalism, robotics, fine arts, theater, private schools and college campuses. Intensive attention to applications, essays and interviews are completed in early fall of eighth grade. A high school fair for seventh & eighth grade students and their parents provides on-site information to all area schools including many of the top secondary schools in the United States. Application and acceptance rates of over 50% consistently send our graduates to bright futures. Some of the high school that are students will attend are: Bradford Christian Academy, Brooks School, Pingree High School, Presentation of Mary Academy, Central Catholic High School, Notre Dame High School, Fryeburg Academy, Maine Central Institute, Greater Lawrence Technical High School, Lawrence High School and Whittier Vocational High School,
Click here to see pictures of the 2011 Alumni Gathering
Click here to see pictures of the 2011-2012 High School Fair
LFDCS inaugurated the Ambassadors’ Program to commence with the opening of the new Upper School in the fall of 2006. The ambassadors apply and are chosen based on the following criteria: excellence of character, academic scholarship responsibility, reliability and integrity. The ambassadors represent LFDCS by leading school tours for visitors, funders and potential students. They meet with elected officials and business leaders—learning the roles of leadership in a community and showing others, by example, the qualities and expectations of students at LFDCS.
The Upper School initiated a program of mentoring grade 8 students in 2005-2006. This pilot project, utilizing faculty mentors, revealed positive benefits for students and has been expanded to support all eighth graders. Mentors are members of our teaching and administrative staff who each take a personal interest in the education and welfare of one student in the eighth grade. This may involve listening, tutoring or talking with a teacher/colleague to map out strategies to assist student progress. As the eighth grader works with the Placement Counselor to find a high school that matches his/her needs, the mentor can play a strong supportive role as a caring adult also helping the student make choices and meet deadlines.
LFDCS was founded with a mission for high expectations for student success including the important lessons of life and leadership which are learned through service to others. Building a better community through the efforts of individuals at all ages is an important goal for our school. Keeping our school, neighborhoods and parks environmentally clean and free from graffiti, gathering food for hungry families, tutoring younger children with reading and math and helping senior citizens study citizenship are some of the valuable projects our students participate in at LFDCS as part of community service and service learning.
LFDCS provides special places for reading and literacy throughout its facilities. A library for grades K-4 in the Lower School contains thousands of donated and purchased books, kits for classroom and home lessons and space to work quietly on special projects. The Alekel Library provides fiction and non fiction middle-grade literature, reference books and an internet-connected computer center to support student research, writing and learning.
The Vincent & Genevieve Foley Family Literacy Center in the Maria del Pilar Quintana Family Center provides a setting for family literacy activities and training and a place for parents to read with their children.
LFDCS has, since its founding, sought to expand the academic school day with After School and Summer Enrichment Programs which enhance learning and expose our students to a wide variety of programs and partnerships. After School at LFDCS, the core of our expanded programming supports families by providing safe care at a reasonable cost throughout the school year which includes: homework assistance, enrichment activities and access to on-site and off-site programs which enrich the development of students.
We are grateful to the innovators and leaders of our partnerships at area colleges, private secondary schools and non-profit organizations for their shared vision of youth development and the extraordinary opportunities, resources and volunteers who support our school.
The Lawrence Family Development Charter School offers an After-School Care Program from 3:00-6:00 p.m., Monday-Friday for working parents and other families of our school needing a safe, structured environment for their children at a minimum fee of $30.00 per week. Discounts are given to families with 2 or more children enrolled in our program. The After-School Program consists of sports, creative arts, enrichment activities and more at 3:15 p.m., followed by a homework hour at 4:15 p.m. Priority will be given to working parents.
Click here to check out photos of this past year's Strings Program
lfdcs continues to offer new opportunities for enrichment and academic growth through valued partnerships which support our mission.
LFDCS provides a four-week academic session for students not at benchmark in reading to address learning gaps and improve fluency and comprehension. The program requires attendance and successful participation prior to promotion to the next grade level. Small group instruction with certified staff is LFDCS’ investment in student progress while bridging the summer. Breakfast and lunch is available for all LFDCS students.
LFDCS offers a four-week summer enrichment program from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. to extend the academic day, assist parents with summer child care and provide special activities for fun and learning. A $100.00 fee covers all participation fees and a weekly field trip to theaters, museums or historic sites. Breakfast and lunch is available for LFDCS students.
LFDCS provides a four-week readiness program to help students, who have completed Grade 7, prepare for the SSAT testing that is part of admissions to admissions-based schools. Fifteen students are invited to participate in morning sessions focused on advanced problem solving in math, vocabulary and analogies. A weekly off-site trip introduces students to the rich educational and cultural resources of Essex County and Greater Boston. Secondary schools, colleges and theatre productions expand vision in planning for the future.
Prep @ Pingree, directed by Pingree School Math Instructor, Steve Filosa, is a multi-dimensional summer readiness program for identified academic scholars completing grades 6 or 7 from Lawrence. LFDCS has been a participating school since the founding in 2002, annually sending five or six students to immersion in a private secondary school experience. One hundred percent (100%) of LFDCS students enrolled in Prep @ Pingree have been accepted to one or more prestigious admissions-based schools.
Project RISE was piloted in the summer of 2006, through the efforts of Board Member, Howard Sticklor and the Admissions Office at Governor’s Academy. A boarding school experience welcomed a dozen Lawrence students including four from LFDCS. This enriching experience offered annually each summer helps parents and students see boarding school as a positive option for their education.
Beginning in the summer of 2007, LFDCS students enrolled in a number of one-week science camps in the engineering and chemistry departments at the university. Scholarship funded, students were able to work with faculty and graduate students in the following fields: electrical engineering, civil engineering, robotics, and computer technology.
MIT @ Lawrence, a university outreach program bringing resources and ideas to non-profit organizations in Lawrence, MA to increase interest in academic sciences and science careers, began a partnership with LFDCS during the summer of 2007. The project brings the entire eighth grade class to MIT one day each month, rotating students to five university programs intended to expose student to the diverse interests in the scientific fields and increase awareness and interest of students in professional science careers.
Students spend a full day in classrooms, laboratories, walking the campus and speaking with students and faculty. A special research component—the Media Literacies Project @ MIT funded by the MacArthur Foundation--is working with LFDCS administration and teachers to research innovative teaching methods and how they engage today’s “digital kids.”
MIT faculty and graduate students will teach science classes one day each month with the participating students and will mentor the grade 7/8 science teacher in his/her development and implementation of curriculum. The research project will survey student interests and track student performance on MCAS Science.
Check out some of our videos from MIT@Lawrence!