FOR RELEASE ON: March 10, 2021
Jane Feinberg, Full Frame Communications
Tower Foundation Recommits to Essex County Learning Community Network for Educators to Better Meet Students’ Diverse Assets and Needs Addresses Post-Pandemic Realities and Opportunities
March 9, 2021 — At its most recent Board meeting, Trustees of the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation voted to continue funding the Essex County Learning Community (ECLC) for another five years, beginning in January 2022. The ECLC, which has been funded by the Foundation since 2018, supports educators in meeting the diverse learning assets and needs of students in the County’s public schools, especially those with learning disabilities, learning and attention issues, and exposure to trauma—as well those who have not been served well under past and current systems because of structural inequities based on race, culture, income, language, and gender.
The ECLC was created in response to several interrelated challenges that fall under one umbrella: too many students in our public schools today do not receive the learning and skills they need in order to thrive as adults – while too many teachers in today’s public schools lack what they need to help students succeed. A 2019 national study revealed only 17% of educators feel “very prepared” to teach diverse learners.
“We are committed to building the brightest future possible for Essex County, which translates to providing all young people with what they need in order to sustain themselves and strengthen their families and communities. The pandemic has only exacerbated the already-existing challenges,” said Tracy Sawicki, Executive Director of the Tower Foundation. “The ECLC has demonstrated that it is well-positioned to meet students’ needs by providing gold-standard professional development to educators and offering them a collaborative space to embrace shared challenges.”
Currently, the ECLC consists of 11 school districts. Each district constitutes a team of approximately a dozen members, including superintendents, assistant superintendents, department directors, principals, data specialists, guidance counselors, and general/special education teachers. This cross-fertilization ensures that the cutting-edge inclusive practices are diffused across each district and across Essex County. Members participate in a two-year intensive professional development journey. Thereafter, they continue to participate in a variety of learning and leadership development experiences. To date, two cohorts of districts have participated. Cohort 1 includes Beverly, Danvers, Gloucester, Haverhill, Rockport, and Swampscott. Cohort 2 districts are Andover, Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School, Hamilton-Wenham, Manchester-Essex, and Saugus. Recruitment for Cohort 3 will begin in May 2021.
Small and medium-sized school districts such as those in Essex County are especially hard-pressed to innovate on their own. The ECLC serves as an innovation laboratory for member school districts—creating the time and space for facilitated conversation and reflection, state-of-the-art learning with national and regional experts, and customized coaching. Topics include inclusive instruction, racial equity, and change leadership, as well as social emotional learning and mental health for both educators and students. Evaluation results show that the ECLC increases both cross- and in-district collaboration; promotes positive mindset and changes in practice; and empowers participants to receive more support and resources to better balance the demands of their jobs. One educator described it as “the best professional development of my career…empowering, energizing, and inspiring.”
The ECLC is directed by Full Frame Communications in partnership with the Center for Collaborative Education, a national non-profit. Additional funding for the ECLC is provided by the Essex County Community Foundation.
“On the heels of a pandemic, we must think carefully about how to optimize the talents of every young person and our educators are pivotal in our youths’ success,,” said Beth Francis, President of the Essex County Community Foundation. “Our support of ECLC’s mission and work ensures that our educators are equipped to serve the whole child and counter the stigma that attaches to far too many students. We believe that in difference lies strength and with additional supports from ECLC, our educators can achieve success for students.”
The ECLC Team
We are thrilled to share resources from the recent Beyond the IEP virtual event with ECLC's partner organization Eye to Eye, which took place on March 3rd. Please visit the ECLC District Hub for Eye to Eye's handouts and the event recording will soon follow!
The ECLC Team
As our nation undergoes seismic shifts, the educator workforce is expressing an urgent need for more opportunities to engage deeply in meaningful conversations about race and equity. In response, ECLC is pleased to launch a new, multi-part series on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in partnership with the National Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) Project. SEED is an educator-led professional development program that creates conversational communities to drive personal, organizational, and societal change.
Please see the flyer below for all series information, SEED faculty bios, and registration.
The ECLC Team
The January issue of ECLC's monthly newsletter, Learning in Community, is now available on our website. Check out our newsletter for recent ECLC news and notes, and to see what we are up to this winter/spring!
Each month, Learning in Community brings current news highlights and resources from within the Essex County Learning Community (as well as the region) to our membership. The newsletter is archived monthly on our website. Please visit our "About Us/Newsletter" page to access our current newsletter edition and all past editions from 2019 through 2021. If you are interested in joining our mailing list to receive Learning in Community regularly, please do not hesitate to reach out to Emily Wilson, ECLC Project Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be added to our newsletter list.
Happy New Year & Calling All Essex County Educators to Our First ECLC Special Event of 2021: Permission to Feel
We are thrilled to announce that ECLC will be welcoming Dr. Marc Brackett, psychologist and author of Permission to Feel, for a special event later this month, which is open to all Essex County, Massachusetts educators! Here is a description of the upcoming event, with more information available including registration in the flyer below... We hope you can join us for this exciting afternoon of learning in January during our first special event of 2021!
"Emotions matter. What we do with our emotions is especially important. The goal of this interactive session is to (1) inspire a new mindset around the power of emotions to transform our lives, (2) describe the five key underlying skills of emotional intelligence, known as the “RULER” skills, and (3) provide innovative strategies and tools for developing emotional intelligence so that our emotions help, rather than hinder, our well-being and success at home, in school, at work, and in everyday life."
Please reach out to Emily Wilson, at email@example.com, with any questions.
Reaching Out to All Essex County Principals for Soul of Leadership PD Series Kicking Off in February 2021!
The ECLC Team
We are calling upon all principals in Essex County public schools to consider joining ECLC for a unique leadership development experience designed specifically for you, called Soul of Leadership. In this time of unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a national reckoning on racial justice, we deeply believe that your role as school leaders and your well-being are crucial. In order to be able to lead and thrive, you need time to slow down, reflect with your peers, nurture your personal resilience, and expand your capacity to build a trusting and culturally responsive school community.
This complimentary, four-part series is free of charge and will be capped at 25 participants. Slots are already filling up, so please take this opportunity to sign up before we reach capacity and close registration. Registration information is available here.
You can find more information about this opportunity, including presenters/facilitators, dates/times upon which the series will be held, and who to contact with questions in the flyer below. Please feel free to reach out any time to ECLC Project Manager Emily Wilson. We hope you will be part of this exciting series, which is made possible thanks to generous support from the Essex County Community Foundation and The Tower Foundation.
The ECLC Team
As 2020 draws to a close, we want to encourage our members to take full advantage of the Fall 2020 PD programming that ECLC provided this season on a range of timely topics from best/emerging practices for remote learning to universal design for learning (UDL). All of the resources from the Fall 2020 PD sessions are archived and available for ECLC educators and districts in our secure District Hub, which is exclusively available to you as a member of our learning community and located on ECLC’s website. These resources typically include recorded sessions, curated readings, slide decks, and more. If you misplaced your password for the District Hub, please reach out to Emily Wilson, ECLC Project Manager, for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, here are some photos from within the community during the Fall 2020 PD season - thank you to our members for being part of this learning community. We are wishing everyone a peaceful, restful winter holiday season and a renewal in the new year for 2021!
The ECLC Team
ECLC's monthly newsletter, Learning in Community, brings current news highlights and resources from within the Essex County Learning Community as well as the region to our membership. The newsletter is archived monthly on our website. Please visit our "About Us/Newsletter" page to access our current newsletter edition for the month of November and all past editions from 2019 through 2020. If you are interested in joining our mailing list to receive Learning in Community regularly, please reach out to Emily Wilson, ECLC Project Manager, at email@example.com and request to be added to our newsletter list.
As we near the end of 2020, we wanted to take a moment and remind our members to check out the ECLC District Hub for all PD resources. Not able to attend one of the fall PD sessions this season? Looking for that helpful resource or slide deck you saw at this year’s ECLC Summer Institute? Want to grab a refresher of this spring’s PD series on Teaching and Learning in a Pandemic?
All resources for ECLC educators and districts are regularly archived in our secure District Hub, which is exclusively available to you as a member of our learning community and located on ECLC’s website. The Hub is password protected and limited to ECLC members. If you misplaced your password to access the Hub, please feel free to reach out to Emily Wilson, ECLC Project Manager, for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org
The ECLC Team
Check out our new ECLC Fall Community Convenings flyer below for details on our drop-in meetings over the next few months, on the third Tuesday of every month from 3:00-4:30pm. All ECLC members across Cohorts 1 and 2 are welcome and no pre-registration is required!