Jamaal Bowman, principal of CASA Middle School in the Bronx

Jamaal Bowman: Creating a More Serious and Focused Learning Culture

This week, New Classrooms held its third annual Geek Out, a gathering of supporters and advocates for personalized learning. The evening event included a dynamic lineup of speakers, and we’re excited to share some of the highlights. Today’s post features the prepared remarks from Jamaal Bowman, the founding principal at the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action.

There is an education revolution happening in classrooms, schools and communities all over the world, and New Classrooms is poised to lead that revolution along with the brilliant students at CASA Middle School. CASA is located in the North Bronx and serves 270 students and families. CASA students represent the rich history and culture of the Bronx and has a vision to use education for sustained community transformation. I stand before you today as the proud founding principal of CASA Middle School.

New Classrooms aims to meet the needs of every student while embracing the teacher as an integral part of the process. In a truly personalized classroom, students are engaging with multiple modalities which includes technology, their peers, and the teacher, while remaining clear as to where they need to go academically. 

CASA Middle School’s mission is to be a leader in innovative education, so our partnership with New Classrooms is a match made in heaven. With digital technology, and new ways of thinking about ourselves and the world, the old ways of learning and engaging with one another are obsolete. Digital technology demands that we do things differently, and we are excited to embrace that challenge. CASA Middle School knows that every child has unlimited potential, and it’s about time that we nourish their potential to create a more just and equitable world. 

New Classrooms has helped us to create a more serious and focused learning culture overall, but especially in the discipline of mathematics. Last year only 17% of our students had an 80 or above on their first marking period report card. This year that number has jumped to 34%. Because of TTO’s targeted instruction, we were bold enough to give 30 of our students the high school algebra exam after only half a year of instruction. Fifty-two percent of the students passed. According to our daily formative data, all of our students are making steady progress, and by the end of the year they will know exactly how much they have grown and the exact skills they still need to work on. 

And this is only the beginning. With technology, the world is our classroom and learning can happen anywhere at anytime. Technology helps parents and community members to get back into the game as well, by helping them to complete their education or upskill while in the workforce. New Classrooms is breaking down the walls of inequity and over-standardization and providing the flexibility necessary to inspire students toward metacognition and life-long learning. CASA is proud to be on this journey with New Classrooms and we are looking forward to continued innovation that will empower our highest need communities for generations to come. 

Thank you all for being here and let’s continue to do whatever it takes to take our kids to the next level.

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