What’s New in Rhode Island Education

From grammar school to college, here's our annual guide to education.



Courtesy of the Gordon School

New head of school changes the face of local education
The Gordon School in East Providence recently named Dr. Noni Thomas Lopez as its new Head of School. She is just the fifth woman of color to occupy this position among 500 New England private schools. Her mission is to bolster Gordon’s current activism, service to others and commitment to equity, justice and inclusion. She arrives with a spirit of optimism and a message of hope. Gordon is committed to teaching age-appropriate techniques to help students understand an often-volatile world and produce smart and engaged young leaders who understand how their voices and actions can bring about positive change. gordonschool.org

Dedicated middle school prepares youth for the next big step

The Monsignor Clarke School in Wakefield is a Diocesan, Catholic co-educational school serving families across eleven parishes. Teaching ages eighteen months through eighth grade, students benefit from the interaction between older and younger students, though the school does have a designated Middle School Wing for grades six, seven and eight. This gives the older students their own area and lockers, and, in order to help prepare them for high school, their schedules operate more like junior high with changing classes. The wing also features a high-school-level science lab, a music room, an art room and a computer lab. In 2014, Monsignor Clarke School was the first in New England to incorporate LabLearner, a state-of-the-art, highly acclaimed, inquiry-based science curriculum that features professional-grade science equipment, a spiraling science curriculum aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, and best practices in metacognition and practical laboratory skills. monsignorclarkeschool.org

Calling all writers!
With strong arts and humanities programs, School One in Providence welcomes writers of all ages and abilities. This fall they’re collaborating with Goat Hill Writers to offer Write Rhode Island, a short story competition for any Rhode Island student in grades seven through twelve. Goat Hill is a collective of several well-known published authors including Ann Hood, Hester Kaplan and Taylor Polites. School One also hosts a series of stress-free creative classes such as Comic Book and Graphic Novel Incubator, Mini Memoir, and Lit Lab for middle and high school students. school-one.org

Innovative classes, unique sports
Many changes have been initiated at Mount Saint Charles Academy (MSCA) in Woonsocket since alumnus Alan Tenreiro came on as president in 2016. Currently, the private Catholic junior/senior high school is starting Success Classes in which middle school students spend a semester exploring topics they are interested in, taking risks and making new friends within the safety net of a non-graded course. Content is geared toward student interest, such as Lego Robotics or Making Murals, and students prepare a presentation at the end to demonstrate what they learned. ✸ Construction projects underway include a new entrance, a new weight room, outdoor cafeteria seating and a smoothie/coffee bar in the library. The school’s sports programs are expanding too. In fact, Mount Saint Charles is the first school in the state to offer sur la glace, a special program for elite ice skaters that integrates training time during the school day to help them work towards their goal of becoming Olympic figure skaters. MSCA is also initiating a new competitive equestrian team for the 2018–2019 school year. mountsaintcharles.org

Weaving ethics with education
Moses Brown in Providence offers an educational experience built on a foundation of Quaker values, weaving ethics and responsibility into challenging courses that push students to see how they can make a contribution to the world. For example, students in social entrepreneurship work with business innovators to address societal issues. In science electives, they study the flora, fauna and ecosystems of the state. And with a long history of service-learning embedded in to the curriculum, students form corporate and nonprofit relationships that challenge them to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to the real world. The evidence can be seen in alumni who range from astronaut Sheyna Gifford (’96) to career diplomat Chris Hill (’70) and actor/activist Jesse Williams (’98). ✸ Students hone their talents in state-of-the-art facilities, exploring robotics in a 5,000 square foot maker space, taking the stage in a 33,000 square foot Woodman Performance Center and getting a world-class workout in the Gorgi Squash and Education Center. mosesbrown.org

New STEAM hub for girls at Lincoln
The Lincoln School in Providence just opened a new $5 million, two-story STEAM Hub with more than 4,000 feet of additional instruction space. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/Architecture and Math) focuses on interdisciplinary learning, critical thinking and problem solving. The hub includes an entrepreneurial space shared by faculty and students featuring a rotating art gallery; a flexible learning hub for interdisciplinary courses, engineering and guest lectures; a redesigned and expanded physics lab, science classroom and chemistry lab; and breakout areas for student collaboration. lincolnschool.org

Robust Robotics in South County
The Prout School is a Catholic, coeducational high school based in Wakefield with a curriculum framework called HEART: Humanities, Engineering and Mathematics, Arts and Athletics, Religion and Service, Technology and Science. This year, their robotics team finished first out of thirty-two Rhode Island middle and high school robotics teams in the state championships of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge held at New England Institute of Technology. As a result, they went on to represent the state at the FTC Super Regionals. The team also won the Inspire Award, given to the school team which serves an inspiration to others, acting with gracious professionalism both on and off the playing field. theproutschool.org

Entrepreneurs in the Making
A non-denominational college preparatory day school, Rocky Hill School in Warwick is offering several new courses for high school students that focus on the jobs and skills of the future such as App Development and Programming. In addition, their Entrepreneurial Studies class explores the process of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, with collaboration from social impact and edtech founders, giving students a unique school-to-business perspective. Rocky Hill has also embedded edtech entrepreneurs into classrooms resulting in robust idea exchanges. ✸ Rocky Hill’s In-Residence program hosts Entrepreneur-, Artist-, and Innovators-in-Residence for sustained and cross-disciplinary collaborations. Hannah Chung, co-founder of Providence-based Sproutel, has joined Rocky Hill as their permanent Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Named winner of the “2018 Tech for A Better World” title at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, the Sproutel team is currently working collaboratively with Rocky Hill students to design and prototype their next product which will help children who experience stress. ✸ Rocky Hill students explore leadership further through a podcast series that engages experts in conversation to inspire other students. rockyhill.org

Changing the Educational and Life Trajectory of Complex Learners
The Wolf School in East Providence offers a one-of-a-kind educational program for children with multiple and complicated learning differences that manifest in a host of barriers to learning and cause tremendous difficulty navigating a traditional classroom. ✸ Called the Immersion Model, Wolf’s innovative teaching standard immerses an occupational therapist and speech therapist in the classroom to work directly alongside special education teachers. They also provide individualized instruction in small groups, targeted movement activities to increase focus and ready students for learning, strategies for social/emotional regulation, sensory supports and hands-on experiential learning. With this approach, children reduce their stress and anxiety, gain confidence and achieve academic and social success. Parents gain a community of support with other families and with staff who work with students until they find the strategies that match their needs. ✸ In the 2018–2019 school year, Wolf is adding another sixth-grade classroom to accommodate the increased numbers of referrals from families and public school districts. thewolfschool.org

Good for the mind and soul
The mission of La Salle Academy in Providence is to educate young men and women of diverse backgrounds in the tradition of St. John Baptist de La Salle’s ideals of faith, service and community. During the weeks of June 17th and July 15th, a number of students sacrificed precious summer vacation time to help service different communities. The first trip saw nine students travel to Apopka, Florida to hear personal immigration stories while helping out at a local nursery and summer camp. The second trip was to Worcester, Massachusetts where the students participated in community-building activities, service, reflection and prayer as part of the Young Neighbors in Action 2018 program. While there, they spent time assisting an early childhood center where many of the children were from state-run foster care. lasalle-academy.org

Service Learning Bolsters Community
The Sally Borden Program at Friends Academy in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, takes a “school within a school” approach to learning, offering a unique educational opportunity for children demonstrating average to superior cognitive abilities with language-based differences. These differences include difficulty acquiring reading, spelling, written expression, math, organizational and/or study skills due to dyslexia or another specific language disability. ✸ Friends also offers a unique Service Learning program for middle school students. The goal is to immerse students in both stewardship and citizenship through projects that range from growing over a ton of vegetables in their school garden for the local food pantry to building bird habitats with the Lloyd Center. friendsacademy1810.org