BHS 21st Century Fund eNewsletter
 2014 / 2015 Volume #2
March, 2015 


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Our annual "What's the Big Idea" Forum will be taking place on Tuesday, April 7, 2015.

This free and popular annual event is intended to spark dialogue around big ideas.  

Stay tuned for the announcement of this year's topic.

Welcome to the second edition of the Brookline High School 21st Century  Fund eNewsletter for the 2014 / 2015 school year.  

A recap of Brookline's Biggest Party 
of the Year! 
The 21st Century Fund's 16th Annual 
held on November 15, 2014
The BHS Jazz Band
The BHS Jazz Band
Raffle Items

The 21st Century Fund's 16th Annual Gala was a festive evening of delicious food, lively entertainment, and plenty of socializing with friends old and new.  


The Gala's theme, "Ignite the Spark," celebrated the Fund's role as a catalyst for education innovation at Brookline High School. Close to 300 guests attended, including many of the Fund's original Founders.


Catering by VineRipe Grill The cocktail hour featured small plates, music by the BHS Jazz Band, and a chance to win 1 of 17 fabulous raffle prizes. Guests were serenaded by the Testostatones, BHS's all-male a cappella group, as they headed to their tables for the program and an exciting live auction. The evening concluded with dessert, dancing, and more mingling.  




Many thanks to all the attendees, volunteers, and donors who contributed to the Gala's success!

Program News from Gaelen Harrington, 
  Director of Programs for the  21st Century Fund 

Teachers Grace Wang and Betty Strong's getting personal at Brookline High School, thanks to Perspectives of a Mathematical Mind.


It has been two and a half years since Betty Strong and Grace Wang - with support from the 21st Century Fund - launched their senior elective math course, Perspectives of a Mathematical Mind (PMM).  As the course nears the final semester of its three-year pilot, it looks like it is here to stay at Brookline High. Each year student enrollment in this class has increased;  the course continues to attract a diverse group of students; and PMM's curriculum is diffusing into other BHS math courses.

Because so much of the high school math curriculum is prescribed by the Common Core State Standards, MCAS, and the drive for AP courses, teachers have little freedom to teach topics outside of traditionally defined courses. It's not surprising, then, that many students graduate high school thinking of math as merely a collection of formulas, procedures, and standardized questions with the goal of "getting the right answer."  But BHS math teachers know better!  They love math because they know that math is everywhere - in nature, in art, in poetry, in traffic jams.  Betty and Grace wanted to create a course (which they did, from scratch) that opened students' eyes to that wide world of applicability.  As Grace Wang says, "We want students to know how awesome math is."


Josh Paris, Math Department Curriculum Coordinator, has been behind Betty and Grace's initiative since its inception.  Josh says, "What's wonderful about PMM is that it's a chance for our department to offer interesting and high-level math to a diverse group of kids in a non-leveled class.  Grace and Betty have designed units - Non-Euclidean Math, Taxicab Geometry, Fractals, Math in Art, for example - so that students can access information at different points and explore the topics to different levels."


Students' capstone projects at the end of the year highlight the deep and personal impact this course has on the students who take it.  After three quarters on introductions into a variety of math topics, each student chooses a topic that is most meaningful to him/her to explore during fourth quarter.  PMM empowers students to choose their personal areas of interest and gives them time to dive deeply into those interests. "The variety of topics students cover in the course ... allows them to see math in so many ways, which was the goal of the course in the first place."


The BHS seniors enrolled in PMM are not the only ones benefitting from the course. During the summers of 2013 and 2014, Betty and Grace offered weeklong PMM workshops to their grades 7-12 math colleagues, and many of those teachers have worked some of what they learned into their courses.  Teachers of ninth-grade math, for instance, realized that taxicab geometry was something ninth-graders could do, so they made it an assessment in the ninth-grade unit on proof - a unit emphasizing exploration and investigation rather than solutions.


The creators of PMM, Betty and Grace, have benefitted from the course as well. The opportunity to develop an idea collaboratively, to experiment and revise it over three years, has been invaluable - the best professional development a teacher could ask for.



From BHS's Math Department:  Thank you 21st Century Fund for your trust in the creativity and expertise of BHS's teachers and for your support of the experimentation to figure out what works best for our students and our school.