Alfred J. Gomes Elementary School & the Lloyd Center: A Powerful Partnership

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“Thank you for helping us become ornithologists. We all learned a lot and it was very fun.”

“Thank you so much for letting us learn a lot about birds and bringing us to the Lloyd Center.
Everything you teached (should this be taught, not sure if we can correct it since it’s a quote) us and showed us was AMAZING!”

My smile grows wider as I read thank you cards from fourth grade students at Gomes Elementary School in New Bedford, MA. I have seen these students, in their classrooms, once a month throughout the school year. We have covered age-appropriate science concepts and MA curriculum frameworks all year, using birds as the vehicle. Our Feathery Focus program concluded last month when my fourth-grade ornithologists, or bird scientists, joined me for a field trip at the Lloyd Center.

The Lloyd Center’s Feathery Focus program with Gomes’ fourth graders is a small piece of a larger whole. The Lloyd Center and Gomes Elementary School have developed an incredible partnership. This partnership, about three years in the making, was sparked by a $50,000 matching grant from the Saquish Foundation.

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The partnership provides multi-encounter, standards-based programming to Gomes classrooms: we bring live sea creatures to second graders, work with fourth graders in Feathery Focus, and teach fifth graders about reptiles, amphibians, and fish anatomy! Each program has been developed and selected in collaboration with the Gomes School Leadership Team to compliment the scope and sequence of their curriculum. Additionally, the Lloyd Center has worked closely with Gomes educators in the form of three professional development workshops.

The purpose of these professional development workshops has been to engage teachers in interactive, inquiry-based student activities and lessons. The professional development workshops provide an opportunity for Lloyd Center educators to share their knowledge and experience in teaching STEM with Gomes educators. Time is allotted for Gomes educators to share their own experiences, approaches, and ideas in response to the lessons provided. These lessons are guided but collaborative, and have already served Gomes students in the classroom!

For example, in 2018, Gomes kindergarteners enjoyed an adjusted version of an engineering-design workshop lesson: they pretended to be squirrels while digging into mud, sand and rocks using a variety of tools! Fourth graders had a blast designing and testing an assortment of sea walls in miniature wave trays. And in 2019, during February school vacation week, the cafeteria was filled with Gomes third graders hard at work constructing homemade bird nests.

For Heidi Lima, fourth grade teacher, the results of the Lloyd Center and Gomes Elementary partnership are clear:

“I wanted to let you know that the wind activity was awesome! The students absolutely loved it.
It was a very powerful unit. Our students were so motivated to figure out the best way to generate energy… Thank you again for everything. Having this partnership with the Lloyd Center and fourth grade has breathed new life into our science teaching and I am so thankful for that!”

We at the Center are also appreciative of this collaboration. The culture of Gomes Elementary
school is inclusive and supportive of its students from many countries and backgrounds. The opportunity to provide integrative STEM education and support to such an amazing place is deeply appreciated. We can’t wait to see what comes next!

by Erika Fernandes, Lloyd Center Outreach Educator