|Programs & Partnerships|
Lawrence Family Development Charter School
Programs and Partnerships
that make our school a special place to teach – to learn – to volunteer
Lawrence Family Development Charter School is open Monday through Friday from the last week in August through June from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. The core academic day is 7 hours for grades 5-8, 7:45 a.m.-3:30 p.m., grades 2-4, 7:45 a.m.-3:20 p.m. and grades K-1 to Grade 1, 7:45 a.m. - 3:10 p.m. The following programs are integrated into the school day providing essential skills for high academic achievement and expanded opportunities and enrichment to foster the development of the whole child.
Lawrence Family Development Charter School received approval from the Massachusetts Board of Education in 2005 to open an early-kindergarten program, enrolling four-year-old students in a full-day, comprehensive program. The K-1 program opened in 2006 in a newly-renovated facility. Today this K-1 program is comprised of five classrooms with fifteen students, each staffed by one certified teacher and one paraprofessional. These students advance in their second year to K-2, where class size is twenty students per group. In 2010, LFDCS was approved to expand its enrollment from 600 students to 800 students over the next 10 years. Due to the increase in students, in 2012 we opened the Academy for Early Academic Preparation, located at 10 Railroad Street, which houses K-1, K-2 and Grade 1. Extensive language development, phonemic awareness and number sense are complemented by learning and play centers, music, art, fitness and Spanish. A secure welcoming environment builds strong foundational skills for transition from K-1 to K-2.
Students who complete K-1 advance to K-2, a full-day academic program aligned with the Massachusetts Common Core Curriculum. Ready to learn at an accelerated pace, K-2 students are introduced to the computer-based programs Accelerated Reader and Ticket to Read, advancing in oral fluency and reading. A full program of English and Spanish language instruction, supporting our dual-language mission, as well as mathematics, art, music and physical education continue the advantages of a coordinated two-year program. Students are grouped in classes of twenty, each with a certified teacher and a paraprofessional.
LFDCS successfully implemented its reading instruction using a scientifically-researched core program (Harcourt) with extensive planning and consistent progress monitoring. LFDCS is a Level 1 MCAS school, based on its outstanding results for MCAS tests administered in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. In each classroom in Kindergarten through grade 4 our teachers involve students in the five essential components of reading: phonemic awareness, systematic phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency and reading comprehension. Grades 3-4 have a one-hour Language Arts block. Three times annually, student progress is monitored monthly using Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and by Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). Based on this data, through our RTI (Response to Intervention) process, there is an additional 40 minutes of needs-based groups for focused instruction of Tier III students groups for specific attention to gaps in reading. The Accelerated Reader (AR) allows students to take quizzes on the computer after they have completed reading an AR book from the library independently. Students are given AR awards during the quarterly awards assembly for earning a certain amount of points or taking a certain number of quizzes.
LFDCS joins schools across the country the first week in March to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss (Massachusetts born children’s author, Theodore Geisel) and to foster a love of reading to students. This tradition, organized by the Parent Liaison and the leadership team, invites community volunteers to visit LFDCS to read to individual or small groups of children, sharing their love of reading and its importance in life. Elected officials, police and fire officials, board members, bankers, business leaders, YouthBuild-Lawrence members, grade eight students and friends and families of LFDCS volunteer to read in assigned time blocks—energizing our school community with their presence and enthusiasm for reading. Each child in K-1, K-2 and grade 1 receive a hard bound copy of a Dr. Seuss book.
The school utilizes several resources in mathematics to meet the needs of each grade level. Teachers also develop their own materials based on the Massachusetts Common Core Curriculum. Manipulatives aid students to visualize number sense and other concepts until an abstract understanding becomes clear. Grades kindergarten through grade 6 use the Scott Foresman Math Program and grades 7and 8 use Connected Math. Voyager Intervention Kit and IXL Interventions provide support for students who are identified through Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) given three times annually. Based on this data, through our RTI (Response to Intervention) process, students may be grouped for specific attention to gaps in mathematics.
LFDCS is committed to providing access for all students to quality education in the least restrictive setting. We offer an inclusion model in which students identified with specific learning needs are educated among their peers with requisite support and modifications provided by certified Special Education teachers. A team of educators, including a director, teachers and paraprofessionals implement curriculum to assist students in achieving individual goals. External support for speech, occupational therapy and behavior management is implemented as needed to address specific needs, sometimes in a separate setting. The Special Education program is supported by a strong PAC (Parent Advisory Council), and survey results of parents indicate high levels of satisfaction with program delivery, participation and results. LFDCS is in 100% compliance for all ESE Special Education requirements.
LFDCS is committed to the development and implementation of effective practices to support language acquisition and academic fluency in English and Spanish for all students. Dual-language fluency—building on the first language of Spanish while supporting proficiency in English—utilizes best practices to meet our priority funding goal. An evolving Sheltered English Immersion model, supporting vocabulary and content development in all subjects daily, and an academic Spanish language curriculum one period each day taught by native language educators supports parallel skills in two languages. All language instructors (English and Spanish) use Massachusetts Common Core Curriculum standards in English Language Arts to create lesson plans.
LFDCS enrolls a student population that is 98.7% Hispanic. The overwhelming majority of students enrolling in kindergarten rank Spanish as their first or home language, necessitating a significant investment of personnel, resources and study in English Language Acquisition, particularly vocabulary development. Staff provides vocabulary-rich instructional support enhanced by visuals to increase vocabulary, comprehension and confidence. LFDCS is committed to the dual-language priority of our school (see above) and the mandates of English proficiency from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Our program for English Language Learners (ELLs) is staffed by certified educators and trained paraprofessionals. Federal and state laws require that English Language Learner (ELL) students be assessed annually to measure their proficiency in reading, writing, listening and speaking English as well as the progress they are making in learning English. In fulfillment of these laws, ELL students are required to participate in ACCESS testing which is based on the WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment) English Language Development standards. Our goal is to provide support as long as a student needs it, and only when a student reaches a level of English use is support discontinued. LFDCS is in 100% compliance for all ESE ESL requirements.
LFDCS recognizes the importance of preparing our students for their future through the integration of technology in our school and curriculum. Since our founding, computer labs and the skills they foster were foremost in our priorities. As both the school and technology move forward, our technology plan has evolved to incorporate computers in every classroom, as well as learning centers for research and remediation. At present, this includes a 15-station lab for grades 5-8, a research center in our internet-connected library and a new computer lab for grades 1-4. LFDCS is committed to Blended Learning by integrating technology into all parts of planning, assessment and instruction. The goals are to: encourage teacher leaderships through a Teacher Technology Committee which helps to inspire new ideas and approaches towards Blended Learning and its relationship within the future of learning; refine a vision for the Future of Learning at LFDCS; work to create aspirational and feasible prototypes for implementing curricular units for short-term pilots and build next-generation competencies. LFDCS hired a Digital Instructor to work with teachers on integrating more technology into instruction. Monthly “Tech Talk” sessions build on teachers’ knowledge, encourage a dialogue on best teaching practices and allow for reflection on Teaching with Technology.Grades 7 and 8 use a Learning Management System, Schoology, to access homework and other materials from their devices at home. Students in grade 8 will will be able to bring their own devices or use one of the school's devices in their classroom.
LFDCS values the arts as a meaningful and essential component in the education and development of children. Participation in the arts opens children’s worlds and minds, exposes them to cultures and offers them opportunities to develop skills which enrich their lives. Art and music curricula at LFDCS are offered to all students K-1 through grade 8 by full-time, qualified art and music instructors. Following the arts standards established by Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, children are exposed to diverse arts media and music expressions. Art and music are also offered in after school and summer enrichment and through an extraordinary 13-year partnership with Phillips Academy Andover. Students in grades 3-8 learn and practice violin/cello each week with one-on-one student tutors from the Chamber Orchestra. A music room and instrument practice center and art room at the Upper School has expanded our programs, and all LFDCS students have art and music classes weekly. LFDCS looks for occasions for students to show their art and perform music throughout the year.
LFDCS houses a state-of-the-art gymnasium built adjacent to its Upper School in 2006. LFDCS is committed to the health and fitness of our students. Students in all grades participate in a two-hour physical education session weekly and are introduced to fitness, stretching, strengthening of muscles and breathing. Students learn individual and team fitness routines as well as team sports and sportsmanship. After-school fitness activities include: soccer, a running club, volleyball, karate, cheerleading, gymnastics (Youth Development Organizations partnership) and league basketball for girls and boys in grades 5-8.
LFDCS offers a special teambuilding activity for students in grades 7 and 8 in place of academic classes on one day in the first two days of school. This program introduces students to their grade-level teaching team as they participate in two full-days of “outward bound” leadership challenges. These activities are intended to help students learn about classmates, teachers and themselves through lessons in building trust and friendships and building a grade-level team of students and teachers that work, learn and succeed together. The goal of the program is to establish, right from day one of the school year, the importance of communication, working together, respecting each other’s’ views and opinions, and to successfully complete the tasks assigned as a team. During the first week of each school year, grade 7 and grade 8 students also participate in an activity day of adventures including: rock climbing at Vertical Dreams, hiking to the pinnacle of Wachusett Mountain or Mt. Monadnock, uncovering history in Lawrence or uncovering paths and strategies in the Maze or the Tomb.
LFDCS invests in the futures of our graduates through our Opening Doors program. The Secondary School Coordinators work with every student in grades 7 and 8 and their families to understand the process of making the transition from LFDCS to high school and the many options and opportunities they may pursue. Summer and school-year workshops in SSAT prep and partnerships with area private secondary schools and youth organizations help connect our students to individuals and interests to broaden their experiences and vision. Connections to after school and summer enrichment, coordinated by the Secondary School Coordinators, introduce students to journalism, robotics, fine arts, theater, private schools and college campuses. Intensive attention to applications, essays and interviews are completed in early fall of eighth grade. A high school fair for seventh & eighth grade students and their parents provides on-site information to all area schools including many of the top secondary schools in the United States. Application and acceptance rates of over 50% consistently send our graduates to bright futures. Some of the high school that our students attend are: Berkshire School, Bradford Christian Academy, Brewster Academy, Brooks School, The Cambridge School Weston, Central Catholic High School, Concord Academy, Fayetteville Manlius High School, Foxcroft Academy, Fryeburg Academy, Glastonbury High School, Maine Central Institute, Miss Hall’s School, Northfield Mt. Hermon, Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School, Pingree School, Phillips Academy (Andover), Phillips Academy (Exeter), Presentation of Mary Academy, St. John’s Preparatory School, St Mark’s School, Simsbury High School, Tabor Academy, Wellesley High School, White Mountain School, Wilton High School, The Winchendon School, Winchester High School, Greater Lawrence Technical High School, Lawrence High School and Whittier Vocational High School. After graduation, our Secondary School Coordinators support LFDCS graduates by tracking student progress to ensure positive experiences and retention. These services help to create outreach mechanisms and gatherings to reunite alumni in age-appropriate groups. By re-connecting alumni to LFDCS, it provides participation opportunities that build allegiances and support for the school. Many of our alumni are invited to speak at special events, at the LFDCS graduation and become trustees on the LFDCS Board of Trustees.
LFDCS inaugurated in 2006 the Ambassadors’ Program to commence with the opening of the new Upper School. The ambassadors apply and are chosen based on the following criteria: excellence of character, academic scholarship responsibility, reliability and integrity. The ambassadors represent LFDCS by leading school tours for visitors, funders and potential students. They meet with elected officials and business leaders—learning the roles of leadership in a community and showing others, by example, the qualities and expectations of students at LFDCS.
LFDCS was founded with a mission for high expectations for student success including the important lessons of life and leadership which are learned through service to others. Building a better community through the efforts of individuals at all ages is an important goal for our school. Keeping our school, neighborhoods and parks environmentally clean and free from graffiti, gathering food for hungry families, tutoring younger children with reading and math, maintaining the school gardens, and helping senior citizens study citizenship are some of the valuable projects our students participate in at LFDCS as part of community service and service learning. Students begin Community Service projects in Grade 7, with 30 hours needed to be documented to graduate.
LFDCS provides special places for reading and literacy throughout its facilities. A library for grades K-4 in the Lower School contains thousands of donated and purchased books, kits for classroom and home lessons and space to work quietly on special projects. The Alekel Library at the Upper School provides fiction and nonfiction middle-grade literature, reference books and an internet-connected computer center to support student research, writing and learning.