Andrew Bott, Principal

Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School

Andrew Bott has served as principal of the Rogers Middle School since 2006, where he has increased student achievement through initiatives such as Grade 8 Algebra. Prior to that, he served as principal of the Mather Elementary School for several years. Mr. Bott has been with the Boston Public Schools since 1999, serving as an Administrative Intern at the Rafael Hernandez School and then as Assistant Principal at the Charles Sumner School. Prior to coming to the BPS, he taught bilingual education with the Houston Independent School District. Mr. Bott received his Master's Degree in Education from Harvard and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from Rice University.

Video Interviews with Andrew Bott

Principal Andrew Bott spoke with Researcher Michelle Forman and Professor Richard Elmore about the early phases of the turnaround work at Orchard Gardens Pilot School in the Boston Public School District.

September 2010:As a school with a turnaround designation, staffing can be adjusted significantly by an incoming principal. In this clip, Mr. Bott points out that he could feel confident that all the people at the school "chose to be here" therefore a different culture has emerged. Some simple, yet potentially thorny, issues such as backpack policies, were handled early on with a spirit of consensus-building. He foresees curriculum decisions as being more challenging because most of the teachers at the school have recently held positions in which the way especially effective, so change may be less comfortable. In these cases, Bott predicts, relying on data will be crucial. To support this goal Bott added the staff leadership position of Director of Professional Development and Data Inquiry. The school has also collaboratively determined, with the help of an outside facilitator, that the instructional focus in the coming year will be on non-fiction reading strategies. September 2010:An important goal for the school district in the years since Orchard Gardens Pilot School's founding was to maintain important links to the communities of South End and Roxbury. However, this goal has been met with mixed results. The turnaround process has allowed for there to be put in place elements for which the community has long advocated - such as an extend day and afterschool programs. Some remain skeptical though and OGPS' community governing board has undergone some changes. In general, however, there is enthusiasm. Mr. Bott also is looking to models used by successful charter schools in regard to community relations. September 2010:Various teams meet for a variety or purposes at OGPS. Mr. Bott summarizes:Middle school teachers meet in grade-level groups as well as content-area teams. Elementary teachers meet in grade level group. Leadership has made clear which meetings are to focus upon data and curriculum and which are for discussing program logistics. Teacher meetings are typically embedded within the schedule of the school day instead of late in the day. The whole school gathers for professional development twice monthly and the special education teachers and sheltered English instructors also gather regularly for P.D. The school also has a Redesign Team and an Instructional Leadership Team. The ILT is the "driving force" behind the instructional program and the RT monitors progress made on the plan shared with the state regarding the school's turnaround. In addition, this K-8 school is grouped into three grade-level academies (K-2, 3-5, and 6-8). Each has an Academy Director is in a leadership position. There are also teacher leaders (referred to as "T-3"s) who facilitate academic meetings with their teams and meet regularly with the Director of Professional Development. Teacher leaders also meet as a cohort twice a month.September 2010:At the time of this interview, Mr. Bott was encouraged by the frankness with which teachers engage in difficult issues. He offered the example of a debate about whether or not to simplify (he said some termed this "dumbing down") a writing rubric or to use the expectations that were provided in context of the state assessment (the MCAS).

We later returned to check in with him about how things were progressing:

June 2011:When looking back at the first year, in many ways the progress exceeded expectations Bott held in September 2010. Specifically, the school did not limit its focus to math and reading. Bott looks forward to continued focus on building trust and helping faculty to understand that it is beneficial to speak up even to disagree with leadership when they have a different view. June 2011:Bott described grade-level team meeting time as the most important of the week at OGPS. He feels that the academic portions of these meetings went especially well among grade levels during the first year of the turnaround. Bott feels that the "student support" meetings could be improved. He pointed to attendance as an issue that could have better addressed in these meetings. Plans are in the works to make this meeting time more productive.June 2011:The Instructional Leadership Team is charged with making the big decisions for the school regarding instruction. That plays out primarily in professional development sessions. Bott raised the issue that if he himself had planned all he P.D. that school, that would be an example of micro-managing. He offered Guided Reading as an example of an approach that emerged as a priority from the I.L.T. and the school invested heavily in training due to the faculty's interest and the perception that the district's adopted curriculum does not offer what guided reading, as an instructional approach, can.June 2011:The connection between professional development led by the Instructional Leadership Team and the nine grade-level teams is best illustrated by the school's use of backwards design. P.D. was often led internally and sessions were given a trial run to a pilot group prior to the school-wide presentation. The school's focus on writing has also made the reaffirmed the necessity for the Instructional Leadership Team. Bott says that while the development of the coherent K-8 writing curriculum has not yet happened, there was been much debate and positive engagement on the topic.June 2011:Regarding OGPS' connection with the community, the biggest challenge remains to be trust. The students seem skeptical that teachers and administrators will return - even when they say plainly that they will. The community board needs to reinvigorated and Bott is eager to invest more time to that. He believes there remains a great deal of work to do here.June 2011:Has a new identity emerged here at OGPS? Bott says that process of change and the re-branding is in process. Staff is proud. Lion mascot offers the double-meaning of pride - a group, and also a state of mind.June 2011:"If you think of a school as a business..." Bott reflects on the cost of overly complex structures.June 2011:Case of the challenge of an entire staff working together for the first time: The math team at the middle school level had to come to terms with true professional disagreements and work through it.June 2011:The position of Director of Professional Development and Data Analysis at OGPS has been key in the school's ability to make the inroads at all grade-levels to focus on data and instruction. This also provides a clear message about what is important to the school.