School on the Move: Award-Winning Bates Elementary field trips to BU

On Friday, October 21st Michael Macchi, a third grade teacher at Phineas Bates Elementary School in Roslindale, gathered with his school’s principal and some fellow teachers at EdVestor’s 11th annual breakfast in celebration of improving schools.

EdVestors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating the conditions for school change, recognizes one Boston “School on the Move” each year for their efforts in school improvement and “rapid student progress.” The winner takes home a $100,000 prize.

“My heart was racing,” Macchi said. “The Chancellor of [University of Massachusetts] Boston was called to the podium, so we knew it was time for the announcement.”

BU alum Michael Macchi learns how to make slime with his 3rd grade students and the BU wizards.
BU alum Michael Macchi learns how to make slime with his 3rd grade students and the BU wizards.

Macchi added that the Chancellor teased the crowd for awhile, in anticipation of the announcement of this year’s winner. Noticing the position of the camera crew, Macchi said that he and his colleagues realized that they didn’t win— or so they thought.

“So you can imagine the level of excitement when we were announced. It was the wildest 20 second emotional roller coaster I have ever been on,” he said.

“The feeling when the Bates was announced was like, ‘Wow, we actually did it. Five years of analyzing data, transforming the culture of the school, and lifting all members of the community … people are finally taking note of the little school on the hill in Roslindale. It was the proudest day of my educational life.”

Macchi graduated in 2012 from Boston University with a degree in psychology and a minor in education.

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,” he said.

Macchi's students peering into where their teacher was once a student in an SED lecture hall.
Macchi’s students peering into where their teacher was once a student in an SED lecture hall.

After leaving BU, and ever since his first year of teaching four years ago, Macchi has returned to SED each fall with his students in tow on a field trip coordinated by the College Access and Completion Office. As he put it when they arrived on this year’s trip— one week after winning the prestigious award— Macchi’s students get to see where their teacher learned to be a teacher.

“We really try and get them excited through a discussion about some of the different things they can learn on the trip about the school,” Macchi explained, “They really want to go to BU one day!”

The group began their morning participating in a reader’s theatre, hosted by the Elementary Education club, where students role-played characters from the book “Hoo’s Afraid of the Dark.”

The goal of the Elementary Education Club, according to President Kristen DePoalo, is to provide undergraduate students with opportunities for and resources to become more involved with their major.

“The Bates visit is a great opportunity for elementary education majors to gain a little bit of classroom experience in a fun, stress-free environment,” DePaolo said. “Overall I hope the [Bates] students left our activity with a fun and positive outlook on what college is like. Hopefully they see that some day they can be enrolled in a great school, taking classes they are interested in, and participating in fun clubs and events on campus.”

The Bates students were introduced to another student-club as they made their way over to the Metcalf Science Center, where the BU Wizards led students in an experiment creating slime.

“The students really enjoy the idea of actually completing a reader’s theatre in a college classroom, and performing an experiment in a college laboratory,” Macchi said.

Macchi added that he loves to watch current BU students—including future teachers—lead the activities that his students participate in.

“I find myself saying ‘Hey! That was me four years ago!’ It’s a great opportunity for the BU students to really get a feel for what the future holds for them as young, aspiring educators.”

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Bates students marvel at the pumpkins being dropped from the top of the Metcalf Science Center

And, by no accident, the trip annually coincides with the BU Pumpkin Drop, where the third graders grab a front row seat to the splattering of pumpkins being tossed from the roof of the Science Center.

“What 8 and 9 year olds aren’t excited about watching pumpkins fall from the top of a building,” Macchi said.

The students then filed back onto their bus, with slime and pumpkin shards in tow, and returned to their now award-winning school where Macchi says that the excitement since the award ceremony has been ongoing. 

“The School on the Move award is a testament to the continuous hard work that the Bates has done around creating a culture of leadership and inclusion,” Macchi said. “Inclusion to the Bates means including all teachers in the decision making process and the sharing of best practices, including all students in providing rigorous, equitable instruction, and including parents as key members of their child’s academic and social development.”

Macchi noted that although the award points to the Bates’s outstanding school growth in the last five years, challenges still persist everyday.

“I’m thankful to have learned so much during my time at BU to help combat these challenges,” he said. “The professors in SED … are truly the best professors at BU. That is not to take away from other BU professors, but I felt like I learned so much about the different students that I am currently teaching, useful classroom strategies that I use today, and the social justice issues that I see play out in Boston Public Schools every day.”

To learn more about the Bates’s work on inclusion and their School on the Move award, visit the EdVestors blog.

-Lisa Randall