Paul Revere

Digging Deeper and Asking Difficult Questions

Interview with April Scott, former Vice Principal at Paul Revere College Preparatory School
by Rachelle Cole, iLab Intern

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Problem: to improve culture and climate
Solution: Introduce a SEL curriculum that targets students and their families
Successes: Getting to the root of the problem
Challenges: Losing momentum during implementation
Design mindset most developed: Empathy

The problem that April Scott and the team decided to tackle was culture and climate. They realized that they were addressing immediate behavior problems, but weren’t doing enough to create a positive culture and climate.

The iLab’s design process helped them explore the problem and find its root causes. By digging deeper and asking difficult questions, the team realized that there was a lack of trust between teachers, students and parents. They concluded that any intervention needed to involve the whole community, not just the children. “We needed our village,” April says, in reference to that old proverb. “Something universal to reduce behaviour issues and improve outcomes.”

A big part of the solution they landed on was actually a prepackaged social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum. This might sound like a bandaid solution to a complicated problem, but this research-based curriculum actually addressed the root causes that the team had identified in their design work. It included a significant component that targeted families and made strong connections between behaviors at home and school. It was also bilingual, which made involving the community achievable. “It was tactile, kinesthetic and simple, which really appealed to the whole school community,” April says. She also praises her team, emphasizing how valuable it was to have a diverse team made up of school leaders, teachers and parents who could offer alternative perspectives on the problem.

Paul Revere’s project was not without its challenges, however. While most of the design process seems to have run smoothly, the school is facing issues with implementation. Some parts of the curriculum have been rolled out, but others are admittedly “still in the box.” One of the reasons is due to recent staff changes at the school. She also thinks that a lag between pitching the solution and receiving the funding contributed to a loss of momentum.

Despite these challenges, the solution the team created continues to have the ability to improve outcomes at Paul Revere. April is also committed to the design process itself. She has recently moved to Visitacion Valley Elementary, but wants to get her new school involved in future Innovation Awards to explore issues around parent communication.