Torsh

Client Spotlight: Building Excellent Schools

picture of the author, Lynn Bagwan by Lynn Bagwan, August 1st 2016

Today in our Client Spotlight, we celebrate a partner that is one of our great supporters: Building Excellent Schools (BES). 

This organization, which has evolved into a national nonprofit, was formed in 2001 after the first Massachusetts charter school saw poor academic outcomes. The founders of BES, then called the Massachusetts Charter School Resource Center, knew that we could, and MUST, do better. The organization was formed to ensure that new charter schools would be “truly excellent, founded by talented leaders and grounded from the start in proven strategies and design elements.” 

To accomplish this lofty goal, BES takes talented leaders who plan to establish and manage their own urban charter school, and provides them with a rigorous one-year training fellowship. In addition to a stipend and benefits, these highly-motivated and passionate future school leaders receive world-class training in how to design, launch and lead a high-performing school in an urban environment. After the fellowship year, BES offers continued coaching, support and training throughout the school’s start up phase and early operation. 

Our relationship with BES began in the summer of 2014 and to date, we currently work with over a dozen BES schools. The school principals, former BES fellows, use Torsh TALENT as a valuable tool for their teacher professional development.  With TALENT, they can ensure that their teachers are reflecting on their own practice, and are likewise receiving regular feedback from colleagues and school administrators. TALENT is also used by these principals as a means to receive ongoing coaching from BES, as they work through the many leadership challenges inherent in the management of their schools. 

Most recently, BES  has provided Torsh with an interesting challenge: all of their schools operate independently, but want to share resources. For example, they’d like to have a shared exemplar library, where all BES teachers can log in and see videos posted and shared by BES teachers at different schools. 

Never ones to shy away from a challenge (or a client request), our developers are currently building a network to connect all the schools, while still allowing them to maintain their own separate accounts. We hope to complete this framework by the end of the upcoming school year. 

By 2017, there will be 127 BES schools nationwide, located in 30 cities. All are tasked with closing the achievement gap, and outperforming their district counterparts. These schools will serve 35,000 students, 87% of whom qualify for free lunch. It’s not lost on us that the mission of BES, which is to help level the playing field for low income kids in cities across the country, is closely aligned with our primary mission here at Torsh. As BES continues to grow and thrive, we hope to partner with more of their amazing charter schools, which provide a true example of excellence in education. 

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