Tessa Orbach

2012 Public Policy Summer Fellow

May 24, 2012

Graduate School:Tufts University
Undergraduate School:Reed College
Areas of interest:Education
Mentors:Nicole Simon, Doctoral Student, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Placement:Cambridge Public Schools
Supervisor:Lori Likis, Chief Planning Officer
Project Description: Tessa completed her Rappaport Fellowship in the Office of the Superintendent of Cambridge Public Schools District where she supported the implementation of the district's transformation plan, the Innovation Agenda. During her time at CPSD Tessa created a report about how to support students through the transition from 5th to 6th grade and 8th to 9th grade. This involved conducting a literature review of how transitions impact adolescents and best practices for schools to support students at these times, as well as interviewing several principals from neighboring districts about how their schools support students through school transitions. Tessa presented these findings to the superintendent's cabinet. Tessa also supported the development of a cross-system approach to how Out of School Time programming can effectively complement four new Upper School Campuses opening in the fall of 2012. This involved assessing and supporting data imput procedures to help detail which offerings are currently available in Cambridge and how they line up with students' developmental needs. She also facilitated a work group of Out of School Time providers and district staff to develop a passport designed to both document middle school students' engagement in Out of School Time experiences, as well as to help create a framework for providers to define learning competencies that students are expected to attain when they successfully complete a program or project.

Tessa remarks that the Rappaport Fellowship has been an amazing opportunity for her to see into the inner workings of an urban school district. She continues "prior to this summer I was following my hunch that I would enjoy working in a public school district, but since I had never had the opportunity to do so I had no way of knowing for sure. My time at CPSD has definitely confirmed by suspicions! I have learned so much from my supervisors and colleagues at CPSD, the Rappaport staff, and the other fellows. I will carry my experience this summer with me throughout my life and career."