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Building Organizational Culture

Barish Icin

Barish Icin, Executive Director of the Pioneer Charter School of Science in Everett, MA, has spent the past year planning and implementing his school growth project that enhances the culture of science at his school. Specifically, he is working to build student interest in science through access to the scientific community and changes in school culture.

Icin knew that to change the culture he needed to have the teachers and administration committed, so he went to them for ideas.

“The teachers have been instrumental in this process,” Icin said. “The school’s science teachers have partnered with the English department to find literature that incorporates the sciences. And we have also initiated ‘biology day’ one day a week, where all classes across disciplines incorporate biology into the lesson plans. For example, a history class might learn about the history of a biological theory, or a math class might do some kind of cell mathematics.”

The school has also formed partnerships with colleges and universities throughout the city of Boston to bring experts from the scientific community into the school. Each year, the Pioneer Charter School of Science hosts a science day. This year, they have increased the event to three days, one of which will be led by researchers from Boston University.  Additionally, scientific demonstrations have been presented to the student body from MIT researchers and other professionals from the fields of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering.

“We want to make science relevant to the students by teaching them to use the discipline as a way to engage with the world. Ultimately, the goal is to get the students to look at the world through a scientific lens,” Icin said. 

“My work with the Lynch Leadership Academy, particularly with my coach, Jim Marini, has been central in helping me to contextualize and reframe this growth project into something tangible. Throughout our work together, we have focused on short-term goals, while always keeping long-term outcomes in mind,” Icin said.

This year, the Pioneer Charter School of Science had its first class graduate. Most graduates will attend four-year colleges, with two going to school overseas and one accepted early to Brown University. Future phases of this school growth project will focus on the success of the new initiatives, and look at how many students pursue college majors and careers in the fields of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering. 

“This project not only reinforces the foundation of science in learning, but also brings our teachers together to form partnerships inside the school,” Icin added. 

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