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Kevin McCaskill of Madison ParkTech Voc

Technology could be the great equalizer for underserved populations.

OCTOBER 2020 PODCAST – This month’s podcast features a conversation between JFY Executive Director Gary Kaplan and Kevin McCaskill, the Executive Director of Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, the only Vocational High School in the Boston Public School system. Mr. McCaskill has been working in education for over 30 years. Between them, Mr. Kaplan and Mr. McCaskill have close to 75 years of experience advocating for public education. In this episode, we’ll hear as they talk about a variety of topics, including Mr. McCaskill’s reason for leaving the private sector and beginning a career in education, why urban schools struggle to hire diverse educators, and how technology could be the great equalizer for underserved populations.

Madison Park Tech Voc Grad Now the Educator Podcast, Lessons during Black History Month with Settenah Wright

Lessons taught during Black History Month

FEBRUARY 2020 PODCAST – Settenah Wright is a graduate of Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, where she now teaches English as a Second Language. She grew up in Roxbury, MA, attending the Boston Public Schools and spent two years living in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is where her ESL teaching career began. In this episode, Ms. Wright shares her classroom lessons during Black History Month, and the local connections Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X and Barack Obama have to the Roxbury neighborhood.

Madison Park Holds the Line on MCAS Math

Madison Park is on an upward trajectory.

by Gary Kaplan

The scores are in, and they’re down. It was expected that scores on the new 10th grade MCAS 2.0 would be lower than on the old “Legacy” MCAS. The new test was designed to be more difficult, with higher-level questions. In addition, it was online, not on paper like the old test, and it contained new question formats—technology-assisted questions and multi-text comparisons, for starters—that students had never seen before. Lower scores were fully expected.

Madison Park MCAS Gain Leads State

The largest Proficient/Advanced gain in the state

by Gary Kaplan, JFYNetWorks Executive Director

MCAS scores for 2017 were released last month. JFY’s partner schools logged many good results, but Madison Park Technical Vocational High School was far and away the year’s high point.

Madison Park has come in for heavy criticism for many years. Every news story about school problems cites it as one of the lowest performing schools in the state. There is justification for concern: scores have historically been low and the school was demoted to Level 4 in 2015. In our skill-hungry labor market, it makes sense to be concerned: how can we support a burgeoning tech-based economy if Boston’s only vocational school can’t produce skilled workers?

Madison Park Technical Vocational High School Student

It’s Time for Madison Park To Get Some Respect

by Gary Kaplan

The Boston Globe Magazine’s recent article on vocational education (School of Work, 10/2/16) came down like a ton of raw concrete on Boston’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School.  One commentator blamed Madison Park for “vocational education’s tarnished reputation in Massachusetts” while another recommended scrapping the school altogether and “start[ing] over again.”  There are legitimate reasons to be frustrated with Madison Park; but there are better options than the dumpster.

JFYNet staff report on the new COVID-19 normal.

Hero Educators Abound

by JFYNet’s Blended Learning Specialists: Eileen Wedegartner, Greg Cunningham and Cathie Maglio

Eileen Wedegartner

In a COVID-19 update April 2 Governor Baker apologized for not being able to name a specific date when something had happened. “I feel like March 6 to today has been one long day,” he mused. “I can’t keep track of it anymore.”

I knew what he meant. These last few weeks have been a whirlwind when life as we knew it drastically changed. Seemingly overnight, the streets in Boston fell silent and New York, the city that never sleeps, fell into a coma. Baker ordered all schools closed for three weeks and then extended it even longer, to May 4. District leaders, school administrators, teachers, parents and even students are mobilizing to try out learning in different ways. As I watch my own children navigate classroom meet-ups on Zoom and Google Hangouts, I am thankful for the efforts teachers are making to fill the void we in the community feel without school.

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    JFYNetWorks Podcasts

    Podcasts from JFYNetWorks

    JFYNetWorks addresses today’s college readiness pursuit by providing focused blended learning programs in high school to help students build the academic skills they need to enter college or technical training earning academic credit. The JFYNetWorks blended program model — infusing specialized online content into the regular curriculum — also facilitates scalability, as the low cost of the online platform can easily be expanded to entire schools. Listen to our podcasts to learn more.

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    Kevin McCaskill of Madison Park Tech Voc High School

    JFY Welcomes Kevin McCaskill, Executive Director of Madison Park Technical Vocational High School

    OCTOBER 2020 PODCAST – This month’s podcast features a conversation between JFY Executive Director Gary Kaplan and Kevin McCaskill, the Executive Director of Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, the only Vocational High School in the Boston Public School system. Mr. McCaskill has been working in education for over 30 years. Between them, Mr. Kaplan and Mr. McCaskill have close to 75 years of experience advocating for public education. In this episode, we’ll hear as they talk about a variety of topics, including Mr. McCaskill’s reason for leaving the private sector and beginning a career in education, why urban schools struggle to hire diverse educators, and how technology could be the great equalizer for underserved populations.

    NFHS, Importance of Extracurricular Student Activities

    Dr. James Weaver of NFHS, Importance of Extracurricular Student Activities

    AUGUST 2020 PODCAST – This podcast features Dr. James Weaver, the director of performing arts and sports of the National Federation of State High School Associations. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Federation is the national leader and advocate for high school athletics, as well as fine and performing arts programs. Dr. Weaver has been the director of performing arts and sports for the past four years. In this interview, he discusses the importance of extracurricular activities for students, his own involvement in high school and college activities, how organizations are navigating during the Covid-19 era, and the groundbreaking preliminary results from a study of aerosol spread during performing arts activities.

    Click here for a transcript of this podcast.

    Kingsman Academy Public Charter School Presents in DC

    JFYNet Partner School takes their rebuild process to DC

    JULY 2020 PODCAST – This month’s podcast features excerpts from a presentation by Kingsman Academy Public Charter School in Washington, DC, a JFYNet partner school. The presentation to the DC Public Charter School Board took place on June 20th, and describes the process begun shortly after the school’s opening in 2015. The Kingsman staff and administration realized that their operational plan was not serving the needs of their student population as they had thought it would and spent the next few years redesigning the school from the ground up. The current move to competency- based learning is the final step of their rebuilding process.

    Click here for a transcript of this podcast.

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