The single-gender concept isn’t the only targeted effort underway at Butler; the district and outside organizations have concentrated resources on the middle school for years. Here are a few of those initiatives:
BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB BOLD AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAM
The Boys & Girls Clubs’ BOLD — Building our Limitless Dreams — after-school program has been at Butler for six or seven years, said Barbara Burt, BOLD Project Director. Unlike a typical Team Up after-school program, all of the teachers are certified. BOLD mirrors the school day and keeps genders separate during its educational portion.
S.P. Livingston Elementary School and Butler, both located in the New Town Success Zone, are the only two BOLD locations. Burt said the purpose is to build relationships with families in the New Town community. A student could potentially participate in BOLD from kindergarten through eighth grade.
BOLD contracts with the War on Poverty to provide a parent organizer who hosts workshops for families at both schools. Topics include financial literacy, job training, budgeting and nutrition, Burt said.
NEW TOWN SUCCESS ZONE
The New Town Success Zone, a concentrated effort of public and private organizations in the neighborhood immediately surrounding Edward Waters College and including Butler and Livingston schools, supports the schools in numerous ways.
Irvin PeDro Cohen, the zone’s executive director, said New Town raised about $8,000 to pay for eighth-grade students to take trips as a part of their leadership experience course. The boys visited Morehouse College in Atlanta, and the girls were scheduled to visit Spelman College. The Spelman visit fell through due to scheduling issues, but the girls visited a theme park instead.
Cohen said New Town also provides kids with one-on-one college-aged mentors who spend at least one hour a week with their mentees and make at least one home visit a month. There are about 125 kids enrolled in the mentoring program.
TEACH FOR AMERICA
Teach for America expanded to Jacksonville in 2008 and has about 200 teachers in about 40 Duval schools, the majority of which are in transformational schools. There are currently seven Teach for America teachers at Butler and one program alumnus.
Butler also benefits from Kate Beatty, manager of teacher leadership development, who coaches Teach for America teachers at Butler and four other middle schools. Beatty is a former corps member at Butler, where she taught sixth-grade math. Now, her role involves anything from lesson planning to analyzing data and how to invest in student goals.
Beatty said Butler is a “magical place” and she would love to be an administrator there. Leadership, she said, can help motivate, push and coach great teachers to be the best they can be for their kids. Without that support, she said, the best teachers sometimes don’t stay in the classroom.
City Year began working in Butler in August 2013 after the school was selected in collaboration with Duval Schools’ strategic plan. It’s currently one of eight schools, four of which are middle schools, that receive the support of City Year AmeriCorps Members. There are 74 corps members in Duval schools, 11 at Butler. City Year also provides its team at Butler with a full-time program manager to lead the corps members’ service.
City Year provides students who scored in the bottom 35 percent of the previous academic year’s testing in English/language arts and math. They also aid students who struggle with attendance and behavior issues.