This month, we visited the James J. Curiale School in Bridgeport to get a school-level look at what real turn around looks like. One of the four first Commissioner’s Network Schools, Curiale School has undergone a significant transformation in only a single year under the leadership of Principal Brett Gustafson.
Katie McLeod, a 4th grade teacher at Curiale School who served on its turnaround committee, says that before Curiale joined the Commissioner’s Network, its teachers did not have professional development opportunities and weren’t supported by the school’s administrators. Because the school didn’t have enough textbooks, teachers had to photocopy materials for their students. As a result, teachers were frustrated and morale was low. Students were frustrated too, and the school had high absentee rates for both students and teachers.
The building was also falling apart, with dilapidated ceilings and walls that were covered in graffiti. In fact, Gustafson says that when he first arrived, he struggled to convince the then-custodian that it was worth cleaning up the school’s walls at all because they might just get re-vandalized.Read More »