On a cold Tuesday morning, Mrs. Darlene White-Dottin’s first grade class arrived at school at 4:30 in the morning. However, these students from Orchard Gardens School in Boston, MA weren’t arriving early to hit the books; they were about to begin an once-in-a-lifetime field trip to Washington, D.C. The class was going to recite Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech for President Obama and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick at the White House.
Showing no signs of exhaustion, the students enthusiastically recited Dr. King’s speech and conveyed the powerful meaning of his teachings by describing to the President what the words meant to them.
These students are a part of a remarkable turnaround story. The once struggling school has transformed itself over the past year and a half. Thanks to state education reform efforts championed by Governor Patrick and grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program, teachers and administrators have beenable to implement new and innovative curriculums which are fostering student achievement today.
Through these efforts, the students at Orchard Gardens have been given new opportunities to excel academically. They show that all of our children can succeed when given a fair shot and a fair shake. Their success is a powerful reminder of Dr. King’s legacy of equality and justice.
Jewel James is Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.