It was recently announced that Beachmont Elementary School was named a National “ESEA Distinguished School” by the National Association of Elementary and Secondary Education. Beachmont was one of two schools in Massachusetts to receive the honor.
“We are very proud to announce that the Beachmont School has been selected this year for that honor,” said Revere Public School Superintendent Dianne Kelly. “The Massachusetts DESE identified the work our Beachmont team has accomplished in closing achievement gaps among student groups as an impetus for their selection. This is an incredible honor and true testament to the hard work of Principal Chris Freisen and the Beachmont staff, as well as the students and families who make us proud every day.”
Each year, ESEA Program Administrators invite each state’s Department of Education to identify two schools to be celebrated as a School of Distinction.
“We had no idea we were being nominated, so this kind of came out of the blue,” said Principal Freisen. “It's a huge honor, and we're really excited. The beauty of this school is that the staff just gets it right. Our staff at the Beachmont really puts our kids’ needs before all else and is tirelessly working hard, collaborating with one another and doing what's right for the students.”
Freisen said even before he became principal at the Beachmont three years ago, there was already a beautiful school culture established.
“When I became principal, I just wanted to keep that culture going, and this recognition is a testament to the work the staff, students and families do every day,” he said. “I think we have fantastic students. We have fantastic staff. We have fantastic families here at the Beachmont.
Schools that receive a National ESEA Distinguished School Honor must demonstrate high academic achievement, which may include high academic growth, or meet or exceed state-determined accountability criteria.
“The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has identified five different subgroups that they're keeping a really close eye on to make sure that the achievement gap is not widening,” Freisen explained. “They are now looking at achievement numbers before COVID and comparing them to after COVID and have set certain benchmarks for MCAS scores.”
Freisen said DESE set a number of targets for Beachmont, as well as other schools in the state, to ensure they are closing the achievement gap.
“We met those targets,” said Freisen. “Yeah, we said we would meet them, and I am proud to say we met a majority of those DESE targets. Our kids are on pace with the state or above the state in terms of ELA, in terms of math and in terms of science, so we are really proud of our students and staff's achievements.”
With about half the students at Beachmont English Language Learners (ELL), Freisen said the school is able to overcome these challenges and provide constant support to students.
“Around 45% to 50% of our students are ELL. The incredible thing is that last year we went from three ELL teachers to five this year,” he said. “We are able to provide additional staff to provide additional support, and it's just so incredible to see the growth that students make. They might be brand new to the country, but that constant support, constant high expectations, feeling safe and welcomed here and feeling like they can be their best selves is contagious.”
Freisen said it is all about bringing joy into education.
“It’s a great team, and our teachers have come up with some awesome ideas for the school year,” said Freisen. “I opened up our first staff meeting this year with a call to bring joy back to school. I think if we're miserable coming to school as adults, it's going to trickle down. So how do we find joy? How do we celebrate each other? How do we shout out each other and make sure that people are recognized for the hard work they put in each and every day? I just want to continue to grow myself, but grow this school in a way that is safe, welcoming and a joyful learning environment.”
As part of the honor, the Beachmont and all of this year’s National ESEA Distinguished Schools will be honored with a commemorative award package, a dedicated section on the ESEA Network website and a special presentation at the National ESEA Conference.
Throughout the National ESEA Conference, select sessions feature “Stories of Success” from Distinguished Schools, highlighting the notable work they have done to make significant improvements for their students. Distinguished school attendees are celebrated during several exclusive conference events.
“I'm so happy and grateful for Principal Freisen and the Beachmont staff, who have done an amazing job this year,” said Revere Public School Committee Co-Chair Stacey Bronsdon-Rizzo. “You have shown great leadership, dedication and creativity in supporting the students and families. You make me feel proud to be part of this community, not only today but every day. Kudos to you all.”