East Staff and Students to Ring in the New School Year on Sept. 8

A New Era Begins at Rochester’s Historic East High School
Students entering East on the first day of classesWhen 1,500 East students convene for a new year of classes on Sept. 8th, they will be greeted by East staff as they unload buses and fill the hallways and classrooms for East’s first full day of school. A new academic year and a new era will begin for East High School—one of Rochester’s most historic high schools—on Tuesday when the school officially opens doors under a new partnership with the University of Rochester.
East teachers and administrators have geared up this summer for the start of a new school year. East staff, embracing the “All In…All the Time” model created under the new university-school partnership, has committed to directing their full professional efforts to creating a positive and successful educational experience for East’s students.
Professional learning, an important component of the “All In” culture, continues to be a part of the foundation of the new East. Transformation of the East culture requires ongoing, embedded, and intensive professional learning for all school staff, and has included extensive summer work that will continue throughout the academic year. All instructional staff has averaged 12 to 15 days of professional learning this summer.
Shaun Nelms“We’ve already seen the momentum at the new East,” said Shaun Nelms, the newly appointed superintendent who has also been working alongside East staff all summer in professional learning training sessions. “All East staff are ready to hit the ground running on opening day, and all are eager to make East a place where every student grows, feels safe and valued, and is prepared for the next stage in life. Our job now is to take that momentum to impact student attendance and performance, and ultimately help every student graduate prepared for college or a career.”
Embracing a philosophy of family engagement that positions families as equal partners in a child’s education, the new East was designed with students and their families, teachers, school leaders, and the community. Prior to the start of the school year, the UR/East Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) leadership team collected extensive input from each stakeholder that has led to several changes to help ensure the success of East and its students. Some of these changes, which students and families will experience at the start of the school year, will include:
  • An East that is divided into two schools—an East Lower School (grades 6-8) and an East Upper School (grades 9-12) that houses a new Freshman Academy.
  • A new 6th grade cohort serving 81 new incoming 6th grade students.
  • A longer 7.5 hour school day and staggered school start times, with East Lower School (grades 6-8) operating from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and East Upper School (grades 9-12) operating from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • A new Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Center, a dedicated space at East where families can gather for coffee, share ideas, make connections, and get support.
  • Double blocks of English and math instruction, supported by high-quality and engaging curriculum.
  • School family groups, each consisting of 10 students and one adult mentor (faculty, staff or administrator)—known as a “carent”—that meets daily to support students’ academic progress and social-emotional growth and well-being.
  • New and enhanced curricula that is culturally-relevant, meaningful, based on student interest, builds on assets that students and families bring to school, and includes problem-based learning that is connected to community issues.
  • A support model that allows East teachers to devote time each day to working one-one or in small groups with students in areas where additional support is needed.
  • A range of new electives and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
  • New athletic teams, including middle school men’s volleyball, middle school cheerleading, and JV lacrosse, and a new school mascot name—the Eagles.
  • New programs, such as compressed classes and an offsite East Big Picture Learning, to help students recover missed credits toward graduation.
  • A new driver’s education program that will be the first of its kind offered in Rochester city schools.
  • Expanded social and emotional support, using a restorative justice approach that focuses on building relationships through small groups and skill building.
  • Better support and more opportunities for the growing number of inclusive education students and English language learners, including a new One-Way Dual Language Program and a Bridges to Academic Success Program. The One-Way Dual Language Program allows students, whose home language is Spanish, to maintain their home language while becoming proficient in English and to achieve high academic success in content areas in English. East, a first in New York State to pilot the entire Bridges to Academic Success Program, offers this program to newcomer students, who entered the United States with limited academic skills, to support them by helping to accelerate language, literacy, and content area learning.
School leaders have made student attendance a top priority at East as they head into the new school year. “We want to remind all students and families of how important attendance is the first day and every day toward setting a solid foundation for success in school,” said Nelms.  “Keeping students engaged in and connected to school is critical to leading them on the path toward a bright future. We are all very excited for the start of a great school year together.”
Families can also celebrate the First Day at East by sharing their first day of school photos online by simply tagging East (@east_high_rcsd) or add #FirstDayEast. For more information on East, visit http://www.rcsdk12.org/east.  
University of Rochester/East EPO Partnership
The University of Rochester, as the Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) for East High School, has assumed full management responsibilities for East, effective July 2015. The new East (http://www.rcsdk12.org/east) consists of a Lower School (grades 6-8) and an Upper School (grades 9-12), and aims to prepare all students for a successful transition into adulthood. A comprehensive community school with a robust set of services to support its diverse students, East offers a strong academic and career preparation program, including a daily advisory program and a full complement of athletic and extra-curricular activities that support and engage students.
# # #

Media Contact: Theresa Danylak
(585) 275-0777; (585) 278-6273 (cell)

Tags: East, Shaun Nelms