The Healey School is a pre-K-Grade 8 school in the Somerville Public School system. An innovative, participatory learning community, the Healey attracts families from all over Somerville seeking a progressive approach to public education.
The Healey School embraces the philosophy that children learn best when excited by their work through projects, essential experiences, and positive relationships. We marry interdisciplinary, creative projects and themed units with targeted, direct instruction. Our teachers choose methods, materials, and guidelines that match a particular child, or group of children, at a particular time within a particular context. We believe that parent involvement is directly related to a child’s success in school and seek to involve parents in both the planning and implementation of all facets of the Healey School.
The Healey Community reflects the diversity of the city of Somerville, with over 50 different nationalities represented in our families and staff. The Healey strives to recognize and celebrate the diversity of backgrounds, learning styles and interests and invites everyone – families, staff and community members – to participate in and collaborate on activities at the Healey. Our Mission, Foundational Principles and Core Values guide administration, staff, families and students in all that we do at the Healey.
The Healey Mission
The Healey School is an innovative participatory learning community. Academic competence is highly valued, and we believe that children learn best in a joyful, creative environment, one in which their natural curiosity, imagination and thinking are encouraged. Our curriculum is based on thematic, project based learning, designed to engage children’s interest and best efforts.
We are committed to an educational program which recognizes the importance of community in the lives of children. Three aspects of our program are evidence of this commitment:
• Creative Arts: Participating in writing, dance, music, theater, film/video and visual art are vital and integral parts of our curriculum. The arts are essential to learning, a way for children to “represent” the world around them and celebrate who they are as individuals and as a community.
• Effective Community Service: Inspiring a life-long sense of civic participation, openness, caring and responsibility is an integral part of our school culture. Students apply academic skills and critical thinking as they develop, implement, and evaluate service learning projects at all grade levels.
• Family Involvement: Families who join our school community become committed partners in their children’s education, both supportive of and supported by our dedicated staff. Parents and students are encouraged to be active participants in the governance of our school.
Healey Foundational Principles
The foundational principles of the Healey School are the practices and goals that underlie the mission and are embraced and embodied by our community of staff, parents and guardians.
• Student-centered learning, an emphasis on students working in groups, project-based learning, guided discovery and a variety of instructional styles.
• Looping, mixed grades and flexible grouping when appropriate.
• Experiential learning, high-quality field trips and out-of-school experiences such as Nature’s Classroom.
• A focused emphasis on early literacy intervention with the stated goal that all students read at or above grade level.
• Flexible student groups that provide advanced students with opportunities for more challenging work and targeted remediation for students who are behind.
• Parent/guardian involvement in instructional activities (when appropriate) in the classroom.
• A parent/guardian on every teacher/administrator-hiring committee.
• Parent/guardian involvement through subcommittees of the School Council, active working groups, and an organization such as a Community Council to build community, share information and provide a forum for parent/guardian input on issues affecting the school.
• Strong community connections and university partnerships.
• A balance between students who are residents of the Healey School neighborhood and from the rest of the City of Somerville.
• Embracing diversity, fostering tolerance, empathy, and mutual care; recognizing each individual for his or her own abilities, interests, needs and cultural identity.
• Meeting and surpassing district academic expectations (with the ultimate goal of college admission for all students in the program).
• Our teachers and students are encouraged to innovate new approaches to teaching and learning, allowing them to adapt quickly to challenges and meet their educational goals.
• All our practices and structures are embedded in a cycle of reflection
Healey Educational Philosophy
The Healey School strives to assure that all children reach their fullest potential through educational experiences that enhance intellectual, social-emotional, physical, and creative development. As a Somerville Public School, the Healey School follows the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and emerging Common Core Curriculum. Accordingly, all students are held to high academic standards in reading and language arts, math, science, and social studies. Healey staff embrace and apply a number of teaching methods and practices that provide students a vibrant, joyful, creative learning experience:
• Offsite Learning: Teachers take their students out of the classroom for hands-on and experiential learning opportunities. These can range from something as simple as a walk in the neighborhood to an overnight trip at a nature reserve or historic site.
• Project-Based Learning: Students work in small groups on using technology and critical thinking to solve problems and challenges.
• Theme-Based Learning: Covers the same topic across core areas such as reading, writing, math, history, science, and the arts so students can delve deep into topics.
• Differentiated Instruction: Teaching methods should be tailored so that students who are behind, students who are on schedule, and students who are ahead can progress at their own level and using their own learning styles in the same classroom.
• Arts Integration: Inclusion of the fine arts and dramatic arts into the teaching of academic subjects to enhance learning.
• Service Learning: Having students engage in projects help others while at the same time learning academic subjects.
• Instructional Focus on Reading Comprehension: Teachers use the cycle of effective instruction in order to show measurable student growth.
• Reading Buddies: Teachers encourage student mentoring by pairing older, accomplished readers with younger readers to reinforce the power and joy of reading.
Innovative Academic Practices
The Healey School has a history of pilot-testing and implementing innovative academic practices that at times have eventually become district standards (such as use of the TERC math curriculum, and the piloting of STEAM programs with Powderhouse Studios). With approval from the Healey School Site Council, Healey teachers may propose to pilot new programs or to opt out of standard district programs. These proposals require approval from the Superintendent and/or School Committee.
Measuring Effectiveness and Outcomes
The Healey School aspires to create an atmosphere of school-wide self-reflection and evaluation. To ensure that the endorsed teaching methods are effective, staff will take several approaches to assessing their effectiveness:
• Diagnostic Tests – tests such as DIBELS, used by teachers several times per year to first identify initial student capability and specific areas requiring support, and then to confirm growth after support has been provided.
• Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) – statewide standardized tests that measure student proficiency in English Language Arts, Math, and Science.
• Balanced Metrics — ways to measure the capabilities of “the whole child”— creativity, critical thinking, meta-cognitive skills, perseverance, artistic expression, as well as academics.
Culture/Positive Behavior Management
The Healey School behavior management plan is community based. It is a collaboration of teachers and students, families, administrators, and staff in the spirit of mutual respect and caring, and reflects our School values of openness, excellence, creativity and joy.
At Healey we are committed to positive, proactive behavior assessment and management. Our focus is on reinforcing positive behavior rather than punishing negative behavior; and on understanding and addressing the root cause of negative behavior including skill deficits. The goal of our behavior management plan is to help Healey students grow in self-respect, empathy, confidence, and ethical behavior to foster development of both personal and community accountability.
Administrators, teachers, and parents work together to guide our students as they develop age-appropriate social skills—through peer support programs, Open Circle, Second Step, in-class group discussions, creative projects, PBIS and other strategies. PBIS is Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. The concept is to use evidence-based practices for creating a positive school culture that promotes positive behavior. The key components are explicitly teaching the expected behaviors and consistency of expectations across the building. The language and reminders are positive with a ratio of more positive interactions with students than negative. The reinforcements are to acknowledge and support students as they follow the expectations and to give staff a way of actively using the consistent language to reinforce the expected behaviors in the school.
Teachers are provided a forum in which to share ideas on effective strategies, explore new approaches and receive professional development training in the School’s framework. Regular communication between teachers and parents on children’s social development is integral.
We discourage collective punishment for the actions of one or a few students and counterproductive measures such as loss of recess except when safety is at issue. In situations where students need additional behavioral direction and support, the Healey’s overall approach is collaborative and creative, engaging the child in problem-solving discussions and treating the challenging situation as an opportunity for the child to build social skills and self-monitor to the fullest extent possible.
The Healey community includes more than 45 nationalities and 20 languages. Our behavior management plan emphasizes School-wide awareness of and respect for and openness to this cultural diversity. The plan recognizes students as participating, responsible members of their classroom and the School community at large.
At the Healey School an element of the excellence we promote is how we respect and look out for one another. We appreciate and value equally all of the diverse cultures in our community. We have zero tolerance for bullying in any form. When someone needs help we offer it: we speak out; we do not look the other way. And we all do our part: Healey staff, students, and family share responsibility for making our community welcoming, joyful and safe for all.
Guidance is an essential and vital service at The Healey. Our counselor is available to students, parents/guardians, faculty, and staff to assist in any way possible. Counselors are ready to listen, give advice, and confer with students, parents/guardians, and faculty.
Meetings are frequently conducted throughout the school year to discuss a variety of situations aimed at assisting students and ensuring academic success. Passes are required for students visiting the Guidance Office. Appointments may be made during a time that is mutually agreed upon between the counselor, teacher and student. Parents/guardians may call the school to arrange an appointment with one of the counselors, or to request that the counselor arrange a meeting with the teacher(s).
The Adjustment Counselor works specifically with children on Individual Education Plans (IEP’s) to provide individual and group counseling services as well as social skills training through the special education department.
Mediation is available to all students at the Healey School when issues arise due to peer conflicts. The goals of mediation is to facilitate healthy communication and respect between involved parties and come to a mutually agreed upon resolution. Referrals can be made by teachers, counselor, parents or students. Referral forms can be found in the front office.
Other Service Providers (Internal/External):
Somerville Mental Health Association/Riverside Community Care is in partnership with the A.D. Healey School. We provide an array of support services to students, parents/guardians, and school personnel. Support services include student support, peer enrichment groups, teacher consultation, parent consultation, risk management, and case management as needed, desired, and requested.
In addition, SMHA clinicians are available to provide outside therapy services including In-Home Therapy and Outpatient Therapy. These services can be flexible to meet the needs of the family and can take place in the home, school, community or at the clinic.
School Attendance Officer
The school attendance officer works with the student support team to ensure that children are coming to school on a regular basis. Attendance is looked over daily, and if there are any concerns or patterns, the attendance officer may make a home visit to help the child and family maintain regular school attendance. The School Attendance Officer is available to communicate with students, parents/guardians, faculty, staff, community members, and administrators on a wide variety of concerns.
Redirect is a valuable resource available to students when they need to take a break away from class. It is supervised and run by a staff member who has been trained in behavior management. Students are sent to redirect on a referral from their teacher or self-referral in some cases. Redirect can be used as a behavior management tool to help students learn appropriate school behaviors and as a time for self-reflection and/or class work completion in a separate environment as needed. If your child was sent to re-direct in any given day, you will receive a call home explaining the reasoning.