When Agnes Ugoji first came to an 826 Boston Writers' Room at the John D. O’Bryant High School as a ninth grader, she did not think of herself as a writer. Then she joined the slam poetry team, wrote and revised poems alongside her peers and an 826 Boston coach, and gained confidence in her exquisite gifts as a poet.
It’s been 17 years since I embarked in this wonderful path of teaching visual arts. After graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1997, I found myself in graduate school and recently married. Holding a student visa, my only choice was to work on campus. I never imagined I was about to enter a life-changing path.
Beyond the mere lifting of our moods and daily spirits, music is often the conduit by which we are often transformed and inspired to achieve. I can personally attest to this belief because it has made a remarkable difference in my life for decades.
It’s always busy in the Murphy K-8 Library! Each day a schedule of five classes, ranging in grades from K1-8, visit the Murphy library. I serve as the school librarian and lead students in lessons ranging from information literacy (finding and using information in the library), using technology, and of course sharing a love of reading through read aloud sessions. Students also have a chance to view and choose books each week.
As the Assistant Superintendent for Opportunity and Achievement Gaps of the Office of Opportunity and Achievement Gaps (OAG) for the Boston Public Schools (BPS), I work to eliminate cultural and structural barriers and promote culturally affirming practices for student populations who have been marginalized, helping to create the opportunities needed for achievement.
Each year as school registration rolls around I’m reminded of my parents’ efforts to select schools for my five siblings and me. My parents took the time to find schools that met the needs of each of their children. They felt that it was one of the most important decisions a parent could make: providing your child a strong educational foundation is critical for long-term success.
For eleven years I have been honored to lead the nonprofit Boston Partners in Education. We have been a partner of the Boston Public Schools for 50 years with the goal of making sure students in every neighborhood of our city succeed inside and outside of their classrooms.
As we begin a new year, I would like to express my gratitude for all of you. You - our families, teachers, school leaders, staff, and community partners - are dedicated to our students’ success. I continue to be humbly honored to serve alongside you. As we continue to strengthen opportunities and experiences for our students so they can become strong leaders for Boston and the rest of the world, I would like to take a moment to reflect on how far we have come in the past year.