Monday, April 13, 2015

Central Falls Comeback Story, Transformation 360: Building an Innovation Lab

At 1.3 square miles, Central Falls is the smallest city in Rhode Island. In 2010, the smallest city made big headlines nationally when the Central Falls school district fired all of the high school's teachers in a dramatic and bold move to reverse the persistent low scholastic achievement and years of failed attempts at remediation.  

Five years later, the 2014 documentary Transformation 360: Building an Innovation Lab follows the lives of three high school students who witnessed first hand the scrutiny and negativity brought upon their community. Transformation 360: Building an Innovation Lab is the comeback story.

 Transformation 360: Building an Innovation Lab chronicles the once-troubled Central Falls School District’s collaboration with Rhode Island College to overcome barriers to success. Rhode Island PBS will air on WSBE Rhode Island PBS (channel 36.1) on April 26 at 6 p.m., April 28 at 4 a.m. and May 2 at 11 p.m., and on WBSE Learn (channel 36.2) on April 28 at 8 p.m., April 29 at 3 p.m. and April 30 at 12 a.m.

"With this film, we hope the public will understand that making change comes from getting in there on a daily basis and trying to meet needs," said Rhode Island College (RIC) Assistant Professor of Communication Anthony Galvez, who led RIC students to produce the film during the Spring 2014 semester. Galvez and his students created the documentary as part of the Central Falls/RIC Innovation Lab, a holistic, integrated and permanent partnership between the entire RIC community and the entire Central Falls School District. The mission of the Lab is to develop and pilot sustainable and replicable programs in urban education, community development and healthy communities.

Transformation 360: Building an Innovation Lab partially chronicles the daily life of Lenira Monteiro, a 2014 Central High School graduate. Monteiro immigrated to the United States from Cape Verde just a few years ago and struggled to balance academics and domestic duties while in high school. Monteiro is now a RIC student who recently was initiated into The 3.5 Society, an honor society for freshmen.

Transformation 360: Building an Innovation Lab also features interviews with Central Falls School Superintendent Dr. Frances Gallo, RIC President Nancy Carriuolo and other administrators and educators who have had integral roles in developing the Innovation Lab.

Of the Innovation Lab, Carriuolo said, “Rhode Island College believes deeply in innovation and community engagement. Through our Innovation lab, our students and faculty will be able to supplement and research the effectiveness of cutting-edge learning and programs designed to meet the diverse needs of the residents of Central Falls.”

David W. Piccerelli, president of WSBE Rhode Island PBS, said Transformation 360: Building an Innovation Lab is an important story to tell. “Central Falls made national headlines when it took bold steps to improve its schools,” he said. “Now, it’s important to follow-up, to tell the story of the school district’s successes, and share the innovative solutions and partnerships that came of it. Rhode Island PBS is glad to bring attention to this local community story and its enduring, far-reaching lessons.”

Transformation 360: Building an Innovation Lab was partially funded through a Nellie Mae Educational Foundation grant secured by the Central Falls School District.

Click for more information about the Central Falls/Rhode Island College Innovation Lab.

updated April 25, 2015