Molly Cole, founding principal of the Edward Brooke Charter School in East Boston was honored with the 2018 Ryan Award for Exceptional School Leadership in a surprise ceremony at the school last Thursday. The Ryan Award is a national award that honors urban principals who are closing the achievement gap.
Cole opened the Brooke Charter School with the belief that every child should receive an academically rigorous public education that will prepare them to succeed in college and beyond—regardless of zip code or socioeconomic status.
With over 500 students from low-income neighborhoods the Brooke performed alongside the top schools in the state of Massachusetts, ranking number one for K-8 schools on state math exams, and in the top 12 percent in English and language arts under Cole’s leadership.
At last Thursday’s event Pat Ryan Jr., the founder of the Accelerate Institute and creator of the Ryan Award, presented Cole with the award during an all-school assembly in front of her students and staff. Chicago-based Accelerate Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of transformational urban school leaders.
“Year after year, far too many children in the U.S. fall behind because they don’t have access to a quality education,” said Ryan. “Molly Cole recognized the urgency of this problem and she built a team here at Brooke East Boston that made sure every student was given the opportunity to succeed. We created the Ryan Awards six years ago to amplify the story of leaders like Molly and to help other principals learn how to build schools with healthy foundations where the children—and the adults—are constantly learning and growing.”
Brooke East Boston opened in August 2012 at the former Savio Prep High School as a replication of the original Brooke Charter School on Paris Street.
Before opening this new campus for the top-performing network, Cole taught first grade at the Roslindale campus. She earned her bachelor’s degree at College of the Holy Cross, then was accepted by Teach For America to teach in eastern North Carolina. Along the way, she also earned a master’s degree from Harvard University in education policy and management.
“I am honored to receive the Ryan Award and incredibly fortunate to be a part of Brooke East Boston,” Cole said after the surprise presentation. “I am constantly inspired by the joy and excitement that learning brings our scholars, the dedication of our staff and the positivity of our school community. It is that combination that makes great things possible each day at Brooke East Boston.”
Cole’s staff credits the school’s success to the healthy adult culture that she created, one where teachers are continually growing and learning along with students.
“It’s about how she shows the people she coaches and works with that she genuinely cares about them and their success,” said assistant principal Katherine Kirby.
Cole was clear from the beginning that positive classroom culture and relationship-building were her top priorities.
“She’s also not afraid of tough conversations with students, she leans into them,” said Kimberly Steadman, co-director of the Brooke Charter Schools network.
Under Cole’s leadership, Brooke East Boston was ranked the top number K-8 school in the state on the 2016 math portion of the PARCC assessment with 100 percent of eighth graders at Brooke scoring ‘Proficient’ or ‘Advanced’ in Algebra.
Brooke East Boston consistently outperforms city and state averages. In 2017, 83 percent of students met or exceeded state standards in math, compared to 31 percent of students in Boston Public Schools, and 48 percent in the state. Meanwhile, in English and language arts, 69 percent of Brooke East Boston students met or exceeded state standards, compared to 31 percent in Boston Public Schools, and 49 percent in the state.
Cole, who has moved on to a different role within the Brooke network, is the first of two Ryan Award winners to be announced this year. Winners are nominated by education leaders across the country. Nominees must be K-12 principals for at least four years with a measurable record of consecutive student achievement growth. This sixth class of Ryan Awardees will be celebrated at the Accelerate Institute’s annual Impact Dinner later this year in Chicago.
The prestigious award includes a $25,000 honorarium and the opportunity for awardees to teach their successful methodologies at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Founding principal of the Edward Brooke Charter School in East Boston Molly Cole was honored with the 2018 Ryan Award for Exceptional School Leadership. Cole is embraced by one of her students during the surprise ceremony last Thursday at the school.
Molly Cole, founding principal of the Edward Brooke Charter School in East Boston was honored with the 2018 Ryan Award for Exceptional School Leadership in a surprise ceremony at the school last Thursday.
Molly Cole was presented with the award during an all-school assembly in front of her students and staff.
Pat Ryan Jr., the founder of the Accelerate Institute and creator of the national award that honors urban principals who are closing the achievement gap.
Pat Ryan Jr. presents Molly Cole with the 2018 Ryan Award for Exceptional School Leadership.
Molly Cole’s students share their reasons why Cole was dservant of this year’s award.