We can’t get great learning outcomes and fully address significant achievement gaps without paying attention to the social emotional needs of students and the non-academic barriers they face.

On December 11, 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education kicked off the development of a new Urban Leaders Network on School Culture and Student Support with over 30 participants from around the state. Currently, the Department convenes five “urban networks” for district leadership (mathematics, literacy, and science, ELL directors and superintendents). This is the first network focused on the non-academic challenges students face. School & Main Institute is very excited to be the technical assistance provider to the state and the network as it grows its work around social emotional supports, school climate, student support, parent and family engagement, wraparound services for students or families, local and state level accountability and related areas. This network will continue to be open to anyone from an urban or Gateway city that oversees or coordinates strategies related to student support, social-emotional aspects of learning, school climate and culture, or wraparound services for students or families. The next meeting is May 14 at Worcester Career and Technical High School.


Patricia A. Spradley, 2015 EdWeek Leaders to Learn From

Patricia A. Spradley, Chief of Parent and Community Engagement, Springfield Public Schools


School & Main Institute is delighted to learn that Patricia A. Spradley, was recently recognized for Leadership in Parent Engagement by EdWeek’s 2015 Leaders to Learn From.

SMI, working in partnership with Pat and the Springfield Public Schools, built the Springfield Parent Academy for which Pat was honored in DC.

School & Main Institute wishes to honor Pat for her tireless commitment and energy in the work of supporting parents, grand-parents, siblings, and other caregivers and helping them connect with their neighborhood schools and advocate for themselves and their children.



The full EdWeek article is here.


School & Main Institute Leading Juvenile Justice Partnership: Re-Imagining Juvenile Justice Utilizing A Positive Youth Development Mindset | A Cross-Systems Approach



On March 13, 2015, at Wheelock College over 100 leaders in juvenile justice and  youth and related fields came together to launch an innovative professional development model designed to address the critical gaps between the job the juvenile justice workforce is asked to do and the skills and knowledge they need in order to do it successfully. The focus of the day was on developing an approach that utilizes a positive youth development mind-set, while helping staff collaborate across systems. This interactive session (facilitated by SMI) brought together practitioners and policy makers from DYS, Probation, Mental Health, Education, Youth Employment, Youth Advocacy, Youth Services, Legal Services, and others to identify the competencies and experiences necessary for Juvenile Justice Professionals to support youth who typically have needs no one organization can address alone. 

The forum attended by nearly 100 juvenile justice professionals is part of building a training/credentialing model that is in development for early 2016.  Our Juvenile Justice Workforce Partners include:

  • Judge Amy Nechtam, Chief Justice, MA Juvenile Court
  • Jackie Jenkins Scott, President, Wheelock College
  • Ed Dolan, Commissioner, MA Probation Services
  • Harry Spence, Court Administrator of the MA Trial Court
  • Peter Forbes, Commissioner, Department of Youth Services
  • Edward P. Kelley, President, RFK Children Action Corps
  • Josh Dohan, Executive Director, Youth Advocacy Division

 Meeting Agenda and the meeting flyer announcement are available for download.


Youth and Juvenile Justice Leaders in Boston Area Come Together to Discuss an Innovative Approach to Positive Youth Development and Working  Across-Systems

Working collaboratively, School & Main Institute and Wheelock College’s Department of Juvenile Justice & Youth Advocacy, in partnership with the Annie E. Casey and the Gardiner Howland Shaw Foundation, have begun the development of an innovative professional development model designed to address critical gaps between the job juvenile justice workers are asked to do and the skills and knowledge they need in order to do it.

This leadership breakfast was attended by a diverse representation of youth and juvenile justice leaders in the Boston area.  We are excited about the depth and breadth of participation. Our focus is to build a credentialing model that supports a positive youth development mindset with a cross systems approach.

In our planning process we are exploring the competencies and curriculum such a training opportunity would offer those in the field - highlighting the ability to get greater outcomes for youth and families while also supporting the efforts of our programs and agencies to work more effectively and efficiently.



Learning & Networking Opportunities for Student Support


On November 20, School & Main Institute will be collaborating with the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to offer “Developing Parent Academies and Other Parent Capacity Building Efforts,” a statewide training event for practitioners in Massachusetts.

Parent academies and universities have become increasingly common strategies to engage parents in supporting their children’s education and other ideas/opportunities for themselves and their families.  As with most things, however, there are many different models – and numerous lessons to be learned from the varying approaches.  We are thrilled to provide an inside glimpse and an interactive opportunity to explore parent academies and other parent capacity building strategies across the state.  

Three seasoned models will be showcased – as well as opportunities for participants to share their own work, questions, and ideas in this highly interactive day.  Speakers will include:

  • Bill Fiore, Community Outreach Administrator, Parent and Community Engagement Division/Springfield Parent Academy
  • Rebecca Masters, Project Manager, Kelly School, Holyoke Literacy House party/Fiesta de Literature
  • Jane Feroli, Specialist for Parent Engagement, Brockton Public Schools/Brockton Parents’ Academy

SMI is the technical assistance and training provider for the MA Wraparound initiative - A Race to the Top effort.

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In a Nutshell

Founded in 1985 at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management, School & Main Institute (SMI) has grown into a nationally recognized, independent non-profit training and partnership development organization that has worked with organizations and state agencies in more than 35 states.


School & Main Institute staff and faculty have years of expertise as organizational leaders, program developers, trainers, and facilitators in the fields of education, workforce preparation, youth and community development.

Read more about what we are currently working on >

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