Breaking the Poverty Barrier: Changing Student Lives with Passion, Perseverance, and Performance

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9781935543145: Breaking the Poverty Barrier: Changing Student Lives with Passion, Perseverance, and Performance

Finalist-Association of Educational Publishers 2012 Distinguished Achievement Award

Strong leadership, parent involvement, mentoring, data-based intervention, and high expectations are known factors in student success. But what do they really look like in practice--and are they as powerful as research says? Breaking the Poverty Barrier illustrates the specific strategies and critical steps that transformed a school beset with poverty and shockingly low proficiency into a National Showcase School. More than just an inspirational tale, this book serves to outline the measurable results that any school is capable of with the right attitude and work ethic. In LeBlanc-Esparaza's own school, he entered at a time where the percentage of incoming freshmen who met state standards was 2% in reading, 2% in writing, and 1% in math. By the time he left, the percentage of sophomores meeting standards rose to 77% in reading, 67% in writing, and 31% in math. If these numbers seem promising, wait until you start to see your own statistics begin to rise.

Benefits

* Describes academic intervention strategies to build change from the inside out

* Suggests additional strategies for handling negative student beliefs, attitudes, and traditions that get in the way of growth

* Explores the core beliefs that lie at the heart of effective school leadership

* Offers reproducible letters that administrators and decision-makers can use in their own school

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About the Author:

Ricardo LeBlanc-Esparza is a school change coach at the Center for Secondary School Redesign in West Warwick, Rhode Island. With twenty-nine years of experience in high-poverty schools, Ricardo has been an alternative high school principal, high school principal, assistant principal, athletic director, teacher, and coach. When Ricardo began serving as principal of Granger High in the state of Washington, the school had a 30 percent graduation rate and the community had the highest reported crime rate in the region. By developing a team approach that involved parents, students, educators, and the community working toward a common goal, he helped Granger High achieve a 90 percent graduation rate, and the crime rate in the community decreased.

Ricardo was named 2007, 2005, and 2002 Principal of the Year; 1996 Athletic Director of the Year; and 1990 Coach of the Year. He has given dozens of presentations and has written for numerous educational publications.

Ricardo earned bachelor s and master s degrees from Central Washington University.

Will Roulston taught English, Spanish, reading, resource room, drama, and English as a second language (ESL) at high schools and middle schools in Washington and Idaho and developed his background in school turnaround at the Migrant Education Office at Educational Service District 105 in Yakima, Washington. Working to support thirty school districts, he synthesized research and collaborated with administrators, teachers, and others to improve the learning of impoverished and minority students as well as English learners. His projects included elementary and secondary literacy, assessment, English language acquisition, and school leadership. He also presented regionally and nationwide at conferences, and coached and modeled effective instruction in local classrooms.

Will first did consulting work at Granger High School in 1999. Two years later, he went to work there full time as a reading teacher and staff development coach, working alongside Ricardo until 2004. From 2004 to 2009, he took a sabbatical to make a documentary film, DreamRiders, winning awards at film festivals and appearing on television. He has returned to helping schools through his writing, presenting, and consulting.

Review:

Breaking the Poverty Barrier delivers an outstanding example of transformational leadership with its power to impact change with a shared vision, as opposed to the position achieved through collaboration, empowerment, problem solving, and conflict resolution, ultimately creating enough energy to accomplish the mission of significantly improving student achievement in this persistently low-performing school. With authentic stories, the principal tells us how to build resilience in teachers, students, and parents to succeed in spite of adversity while walking the talk himself. Throughout he builds an environment of cultural awareness and mutual respect, motivating students of poverty to excel. He leaves the reader with a dare to use his journey as a roadmap for their own schools for those with enough courage and caring to begin. --Sandra K. Darling, PhD, President and CEO of Learning Bridges

Over the past ten years, the Education Trust has worked hard to identify high-poverty and high-minority schools that, through consistently high performance, are dispelling myths about the potential of poor children to achieve at high levels. To help other educators learn from them, we ve written profiles, organized an annual conference, and produced three books about what they do to such good effect. But this is the first time that a principal-teacher team from a high-performing or high-improving school has actually stepped forward to tell their story in their own words, with an eye toward helping others learn from it. This is a must-read for those engaged in doing the important work of school improvement. --Kati Haycock, President, Education Trust

Ricardo LeBlanc-Esparza and Will Roulston tell the compelling story of dramatic changes in one high school. The book is a great read and describes changes that can be achieved in high schools when the school leaders care deeply about the well-being of students and their families. The story Ricardo tells in this book is the most compelling narrative of school change that I have ever read. It shows how caring combined with intelligent decision making can make unbelievable improvements in lifetime outcomes for all students. Breaking the Poverty Barrier is both inspiring and motivational a great resource for all high school leaders. It should be read and reread several times by any high school principal who truly cares about helping each and every student in his or her school. --Joseph DiMartino, President, Center for Secondary School Redesign, Inc.

Over the past ten years, the Education Trust has worked hard to identify high-poverty and high-minority schools that, through consistently high performance, are dispelling myths about the potential of poor children to achieve at high levels. To help other educators learn from them, we ve written profiles, organized an annual conference, and produced three books about what they do to such good effect. But this is the first time that a principal-teacher team from a high-performing or high-improving school has actually stepped forward to tell their story in their own words, with an eye toward helping others learn from it. This is a must-read for those engaged in doing the important work of school improvement. --Kati Haycock, President, Education Trust

Ricardo LeBlanc-Esparza and Will Roulston tell the compelling story of dramatic changes in one high school. The book is a great read and describes changes that can be achieved in high schools when the school leaders care deeply about the well-being of students and their families. The story Ricardo tells in this book is the most compelling narrative of school change that I have ever read. It shows how caring combined with intelligent decision making can make unbelievable improvements in lifetime outcomes for all students. Breaking the Poverty Barrier is both inspir --Joseph DiMartino, President, Center for Secondary School Redesign, Inc.

Over the past ten years, the Education Trust has worked hard to identify high-poverty and high-minority schools that, through consistently high performance, are dispelling myths about the potential of poor children to achieve at high levels. To help other educators learn from them, we ve written profiles, organized an annual conference, and produced three books about what they do to such good effect. But this is the first time that a principal-teacher team from a high-performing or high-improving school has actually stepped forward to tell their story in their own words, with an eye toward helping others learn from it. This is a must-read for those engaged in doing the important work of school improvement. --Kati Haycock, President, Education Trust

Ricardo LeBlanc-Esparza and Will Roulston tell the compelling story of dramatic changes in one high school. The book is a great read and describes changes that can be achieved in high schools when the school leaders care deeply about the well-being of students and their families. The story Ricardo tells in this book is the most compelling narrative of school change that I have ever read. It shows how caring combined with intelligent decision making can make unbelievable improvements in lifetime outcomes for all students. Breaking the Poverty Barrier is both inspiring and motivational a great resource for all high school leaders. It should be read and reread several times by any high school principal who truly cares about helping each and every student in his or her school. --Joseph DiMartino, President, Center for Secondary School Redesign, Inc.

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