Each quarter, the Kansas City Teacher Residency takes time to highlight one of its school partners that exemplifies one of our core values. This quarter, we choose to focus on Scuola Vita Nuova. For those unfamiliar, Scuola Vita Nuova is situated in the Pendleton Heights neighborhood located in Northeast Kansas City. Housed in a vibrant and multicultural community, Scuola Vita Nuova’s student body is as diverse as its neighborhood with a student body that is 64% Hispanic, 19% African American, 8% White, and 8% Asian. Students at SVN are afforded the opportunity to make friends from all over the world and learn in an environment that is both safe and supportive. For our KCTR Residents at Scuola Vita Nuova, the value that stands out most is High Expectations. Scuola Vita Nuova has done a commendable job of creating an atmosphere for learning that is easily observable in every classroom. At first glance, a visitor might believe that he or she has come upon a remarkable, but isolated, teacher. A one off educator who is connected with students and best practices but not representative of the teaching population as a whole. After placing three Resident teachers at three different grade levels, we at KCTR have come to believe that a culture of High Expectations is just ingrained in the SVN approach to urban education. The school mission statement reads:
SVN provides a safe, healthy, collaborative community of engaged learners who are inspired academically while fostering a supportive network for its families.
While those outside of urban education would consider the culture and climate present at SVN difficult to recreate, the secret to their success lies in these three core practices that can be found school wide.
1. Clear expectations
Residents can be found working with students to “keep their voice at level zero” or walk quietly in the hallway, or persist through a difficult class assignment. Teachers re-teach time and again the expectations for students giving them room to make mistakes and continue to grow.
Teachers at SVN work collaboratively to plan all summative and formative assessments to ensure alignment and student success. They meet regularly to use data to assess their efficacy and adjust as needed in the best interest of student learning.
3. A connection to community
SVN features a large bilingual population. Communications are sent out in multiple languages, parents can come in and speak to someone in their native language, and staff works tirelessly with parents to address needs.
The KCTR Way…
As an organization focused around supplying high quality mission driven teachers to students in need, the partnership with Scuola Vita Nuova just makes sense. Our Residents are receiving tutelage from master teachers on how to create a truly collaborative and academically viable environment for students who need it most. They are gaining experience in team dynamics, positive workplace culture, and student driven instruction. Once their residency year is over not only will they be prepared to tackle their first year of teaching, they will be able to do so with a year’s worth of experience putting best practices to work in a classroom because of the efforts of their Mentor Teachers at Scuola Vita Nuova. At Kansas City Teacher Residency, we believe that by continuing the work of educating our nation’s most vulnerable student populations and providing them access to quality instructors we are closing the achievement gap, socioeconomic gap, and opening up pathways to success that may otherwise have remained closed. Scuola Vita Nuova is our partner in that work and we are glad to have them.