BPS Mattahunt Redesign

Client: Boston Public Schools

COMMUNITY-LED DESIGN


How can we help a community heal so that it might imagine its future?






The Dorchester community of Boston has seen its needs marginalized time and again.  And so, when a persistently troubled school was closed with the announcement that it would be redesigned and reopened, the decision was met with skepticism, anger, and negativity.

The school redesign team included a principal who had been moved from a high performing school to this new setting; a number of teachers who were in the process of being fired, uncertain of their rehire; and school partners such as mental health care providers, unsure of the ongoing relationship. The mood was not great.

Our goal was to facilitate a design process that could help this group tackle this project from a positive place. We started with the emotional work, asking each participant to write about a moment of great learning. As folks read their stories, the tenor changed, people leaned in and we could feel the energy lift.

With the headspace to be generative, we dove together into the work of imagining their new school. We worked on the high level elements like vision, mission and principles, and drilled into the nitty-gritty touchpoints that bring those principles to life (like transitions to the bathroom or parent-teacher conferences).

Ultimately, the team envisioned the new school from a programmatic, staffing, and operational perspective, while also building structural supports and systems of accountability between the school and central office. Today, the Mattahunt Elementary School is Boston’s first dual language Haitian-Creole program.


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