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College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

- Authored by: Eileen Wedegartner

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.

During this time, I have been able to connect virtually with the Higginson- Lewis K-8 School in Roxbury. I was supposed to be in the school the week of March 16 introducing teachers to our online program that would prepare students for the upcoming MCAS exams, when the ground suddenly shifted beneath our feet. Since then, teachers and school and district leadership have worked hard to engage students remotely. While everyone hopes to be back in the classroom May 4, I am deeply impressed with the efforts to ensure that students do not lose ground. From learning to navigate online meetings to crafting appropriate enrichment and practice materials that students can use either online or off, it is amazing to watch the teachers I work with help students navigate these new challenges in a world turned on its head. I sat in a virtual meeting recently with teachers who shared their techniques for implementing programs to help students keep up with their work. While our extraordinary doctors and nurses turn their hospitals into battle stations to defend against the viral onslaught, our educators are doing heroic work to ensure that students can be resilient and continue to thrive in the face of adversity. Their efforts during this shutdown will pay dividends when school comes back into session and students have to re-confront accountability.

EILEEN WEDEGARTNER, available TUESDAYS, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Click here to email Eileen.


Greg Cunningham

Madison Park: During the first two weeks of the shutdown, about half of the students previously registered with JFY logged into our software from home. Many teachers are continuing to use our math software to reinforce skills as well as bolstering reading skills with our ELA program.

We were proud to learn that Madison Park made a donation to Boston Medical Center to help protect medical staff on the front lines fighting the virus. Over 5,000 pairs of gloves, 1,000 gowns, 200 masks and 200 foot covers, which the school had intended to use for its training programs in health technology, medical assisting, dental assisting and cosmetology, were donated to BMC to replenish the hospital’s diminishing supplies.

Dearborn STEM Academy: Math teachers at Dearborn have opted to use JFY’s math software to reduce gaps in student learning. Students will focus on skills in which they have demonstrated low competency in order to strengthen their math abilities. More than 100 students registered for the first time with JFY during the truncated first two weeks of the shutdown. We anticipate many more, as teachers plan to work with JFY for the duration.

BMC Durfee (Fall River): Students in the Bridgewater State University dual enrollment courses continue to work and receive instruction supported by JFY during the school shutdown. In early March, BSU switched to remote learning for all courses and has provided instructors with resources to maintain continuity of instruction. JFY’s Blended Learning Specialists have assisted Durfee students in gaining access to coursework and keeping pace while using these resources. Understanding that many students have limited or no access to technology at home, instructors have been flexible with due dates for assignments in order to ensure maximum participation and credit.

GREG CUNNINGHAM, available THURSDAYS, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM. Click here to email Greg.


Cathie Maglio

It is not easy for teachers or students to shift from traditional face to face education to remote. I applaud all the teachers I work with at East Boston High, Burke High, Revere High and Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational for adapting so quickly to this new way of teaching and learning. I also commend teachers I have worked with in the past at other schools who are now at New Mission High and Hennigan K – 8 for reaching out to re-connect with JFY for online curriculum and teacher support as they transition to remote. I also cheer for students at all these schools who are making the adjustment to this different style of learning.

Teachers are now using online communication tools to teach and stay in touch with their students, and the students are responding.

I also want to laud Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational High School for donating face masks and other medical supplies from their training resources to Melrose Wakefield Healthcare.

CATHIE MAGLIO, available WEDNESDAYS, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Click here to email Cathie.

Stress and Pressure: Helping Students Navigate

We need to help them manage expectations effectively.


by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

Growing up, I remember there were high school students around me who had either attempted to take their own life or had done so. As a teen, it shook me to think that anyone felt that alone. It was sad, but it was also an anomaly.

In the last few years, a community near mine experienced a spike in suicides among high school students. It was enough of a crisis that the Boston Globe wrote about it in the article “After suicides in Acton and Boxborough, A Communion of Sorrow.”

The Power of Reading. Be Empowered, Get Inspired

Get Inspired

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

I can remember the moment in childhood when I was first able to read independently. We were on our annual drive to the Berkshires, a family tradition. As we got onto Route 2 I began to read the signs excitedly to my father. I read each exit number and the names of the towns. “Mohawk Trail” was easy but “Leominster” and “Winchendon” were more challenging. I distinctly remember being in the back seat of the big blue Ford LTD with my dad in the front, feeling his pride as I nailed sign after sign all by myself.

Another New Beginning-Start of school

It is exciting. It is exhausting. It is a time of transition for everyone.

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

It’s that bittersweet time of year again, the start of school. We pack away our summer gear, bags loaded with suntan lotion, flip-flips, towels and sand, and trade them in for book bags stuffed with new notebooks. Schools have been freshly cleaned and waxed and everything has a glimmer of hope. It’s that glorious time when every desk is shining, every pencil is sharp, and every Expo marker works.

Collaboration with B.M.C. Durfee High School, Bridgewater State University and JFYNetWorks

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

In 2018-19, Bridgewater State University, BMC Durfee High School and JFY piloted a dual enrollment collaboration. The pilot offered much encouragement and many lessons. Here are some general observations, followed by specific recommendations.

All students, especially those who may be the first in their family to attend college, need support navigating the shifts in academic rigor, independent learning strategies, time management, different technologies, and other aspects of college.

Early College Reduces Inequity

A Promising Pathway to College and Careers

Bridgewater State University, B.M.C. Durfee High School and JFY’s New Partnership

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

The college admissions scandal that broke in March kept unfolding through the weeks and months like an origami of shame, exposing story after sordid story of gross inequity in the college admissions process.

As the national networks uncoiled twisted tales of bribery and deception that famous parents of means had braided to get their kids into elite colleges, local news stations were swarmed by flocks of ordinary people calling in anonymously to admit that they had written their children’s essays for them.

What is College Readiness? Are You Ready?

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

It goes beyond quantitative data points

Measuring “college readiness” is quite the conundrum. Some say it is about test scores, class rank, SAT and GPA. But I think it goes beyond those quantitative data points. While they are all important indicators of skill, there are other measures that cannot be captured in scores but are inherent in “readiness.” These qualities or capacities include executive function, time management in general, prioritizing work and planning for due dates.

Words and Meanings - The teachers’ job, Ask Questions

The teachers’ job

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

The job of the English teacher is to ensure that students can read a complex text with comprehension and formulate ideas about it orally and in writing. Teachers often walk a fine line between imparting their own views and facilitating an environment where students can formulate their own judgements based on their own knowledge, values, ethics and beliefs.

Curiosity and Courage
Curiosity and Courage in the Classroom

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

WGBH, one of our Boston NPR stations, recently ran a three-part series titled, “Teaching the Future: Climate Change Education on Cape Cod.” The series explores the challenges for teachers who are trying to teach about climate change when they have not had deep training on the subject.

MCAS Prep

Meet the new MCAS with confidence and success

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

I started teaching in 1998. My first year I filled in for a teacher in a Boston exurb. The school was my alma mater, so English department staff took me under their wings to help me do the best one could hope for a first-year teacher. They gave me lesson plans, coached me on practice and helped me develop some good curriculum. By all measures, I had a great year in my first year of teaching.