Cornerstone Literacy is working with Springfield Public Schools to establish “Anchor Schools” for strengthening, deepening, and spreading the highest quality classroom instruction. Rooted in CLI best practices and driven by state performance standards, these schools will become local exemplars of best practices, organized and supported to strengthen literacy and, thereby, other elementary instructional practices, district wide.
For the 2012-13 school year, four schools were selected:
- German Gerena Community School
- Frank H. Freedman School
- Lincoln School
- Alfred G. Zanetti Montessori Magnet School
Called by several different names—including laboratory school, demonstration school, and model school—our term, Anchor School, denotes a teaching school highly invested in sustaining its own culture of continuous learning while opening its doors for others to learn.
American philosopher and education reformer John Dewey is credited with establishing the earliest laboratory schools—places where he could actualize his pedagogical beliefs about the interactions between teachers, students, and content. Dewey advocated for an educational structure that strikes a balance between delivering knowledge while taking into account the interests and experiences of the student, in settings where the teacher becomes a partner in the learning process, guiding students to discover meaning independently within the subject area.
More than a century later, CLI and its partner district believe there is still much to learn from studying the impact of schools that implement research-based literacy practices with fidelity, demonstrating how inquiry, collaboration, and innovation make the highest levels of learning accessible to all children, regardless of ethnicity or economic status.
Features of an Anchor School
- Sustained progress with clear evidence of improved teaching practice and student learning
- Co-construction of work with CLI and other district partners to maximize intersections between research and the reality of practice
- Culture that demonstrates flexibility in order to provide literacy learning opportunities and makes other environment/culture decisions that support literacy best practices
- Context that informs district decisions about the larger context of schooling, such as funding and staffing in providing an environment for high levels of learning
- Strong teaching, resulting in high levels of learning, critical thought and student independence
- Openness on multiple levels—open to inquiry, rigor, and innovation for every member of the school community; open to study visits from colleagues and community within the district and beyond in its role as a teaching school; and open to scrutiny, review, and reflection as essential elements of continuous improvement