By Michael Coughlin Jr.
East Boston High School was revealed as the winner of EdVestors’ School on the Move Prize during a ceremony last week at the Westin Copley.
The recognition netted East Boston High School a prize of $100,000. According to a press release from EdVestors, the award includes $80,000 in cash, with the remaining $20,000 going toward “best practice research.”
“I would like to thank EdVestors and their distinguished panel for their outstanding commitment to students across the City of Boston and for granting us your tremendous award,” said Phillip Brangiforte, East Boston High School’s Headmaster.
This year’s ceremony marked the 18th time the School on the Move Prize has been given out. “Today is about shining a spotlight on the schools, leaders, and teachers who create and continuously improve the learning environments where all our students can thrive,” said Myran Parker-Brass Edvestors’ Governing Board Chair.
“By sharing the stories of Boston Schools on the Move, our aim is to help more schools improve,” she added.
Through the prize selection process, all Boston Public Schools (BPS) serving students from Pre-K to 12th grade could apply. Eventually, eight semi-finalist schools were whittled down to three by a selection panel.
The School on the Move Prize finalists were East Boston High School, Boston Green Academy, and Fenway High School.
Parker-Brass explained that the schools were chosen based on “their demonstrated improvements, their focus on equity, and the relevance of their improvement story to other schools.”
As part of the ceremony, those in attendance had the opportunity to learn more about each school as a video from each finalist was shown. Additionally, those in attendance heard remarks from BPS Superintendent Mary Skipper and Mayor Michelle Wu.
Both Skipper and Wu were complimentary of all three finalists. “Congratulations to all the finalists; it’s thrilling to know their secondary as well, given that was the last role I had here. So I know all three school’s leaders and communities, and they’re all deserving of being a finalist,” said Skipper.
Wu congratulated the school leaders of all three finalists and the teams of each school, saying, “You have all demonstrated a commitment to nurturing learning environments that foster curiosity and empower every one of our young people to thrive.”
Although East Boston High School was the big winner, that does not mean the other finalist schools went home empty-handed; Boston Green Academy and Fenway High School are each receiving awards of $20,000, which is actually double the usual runner-up award.
East Boston High School’s win outlines a huge demonstration of improvement. Pamphlets that described each finalist highlighted that the school has gone from potential state takeover to “becoming the only open enrollment high school in Boston with a waitlist for all grades.”
Moreover, the same pamphlet indicates how the school has raised its graduation rate by 38 points over the past 10 years.
For Brangiforte, there is no doubt that the prize has tremendous meaning, not only because he is a school leader but also because he and other family members, such as his children, have graduated from the school.
“East Boston High School runs deep in my bloodlines; some say if you were to cut me, I would bleed blue and gold,” said Brangiforte.
Further, Brangiforte reflected on the journey from a struggling school to one that is taking home an award for its accomplishments.
“When my journey began as school leader back in 2013, we were at the third percentile, but despite the data, I always knew we were a great school. We were underperforming; I had a clear vision, and I knew we had to make some changes,” said Brangiforte.
“It started with the I, but it quickly turned to the we. Our tremendous staff came together for one common goal: to better service the students of our community,” he added.
He went on to thank the East Boston High School staff, saying, “I will put my staff up against any staff in the state of Massachusetts.”
Brangiforte also thanked his students, commending them for the work they have put in and their commitment to excellence, saying, “They are the true backbone of our community.”
While he was thankful for the recognition and proud of the school for its progress, Brangiforte indicated that there is more work to be done.
“We will continue to work hard to nurture, educate, and inspire every student who walks through the doors as we are committed to making East Boston High School the best school in the state,” said Brangiforte.
“I would like to invite all of you to visit our school, to walk the halls, and experience the magic. I guarantee when you leave, you will never forget to put the east in front of the Boston.”