“Our schools were not built for this”
That sounds like an obvious statement, says Daniel St. Louis, principal of University Park Campus School (UPCS) in Worcester, Massachusetts. But “a big part of how we see our identity has been taken away” by the school closures following the pandemic. “One of our great, great strengths is the relationships — the social learning, group work, learning together, being with your friends all day and doing the academic work.”
UPCS has never relied much on computers, but in the last couple of years more and more teachers have gotten online and begun accepting assignments online. So, in some ways UPCS was well positioned, St. Louis says, for remote learning. But, he says, the computers haven’t changed the essence of education. “Kids need their teachers,” he says. “Especially our population, our urban, low-income population.”
UPCS is an unusual school, co-founded by Clark University and Worcester Public Schools. It deliberately builds a culture where, St. Louis says, “we treat them as adults.” And, he says, “they rise to the challenge.” Ninety percent of the students graduate in four years; 100 percent in five years, most of whom go to college.
In this episode, hear how St. Louis is thinking about how to continue building a strong social and academic culture while not necessarily being able to be in the same space.
For more about University Park Campus School, see It’s Being Done (Harvard Education Press, 2007).
And to see University Park’s remote learning plans, go to: https://worcesterschools.org/school-subpage/upcs-extended-learning/