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Natixis 'adopts' Winthrop Elementary School in Dorchester

Posted by Patrick Rosso  June 7, 2012 04:19 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)

In Video: Students at the John Winthrop Elementary School in Dorchester will now be able to compete with schools across the Commonwealth after Natixis Global Asset Management “adopted” the school Thursday afternoon.

An international asset-management firm will provide financial and technical support and mentoring to students at the John Winthrop Elementary School in Dorchester, the city announced Thursday.

The assistance is part of the city's "Adopt-a-School" program. The commitment by Natixis Global Asset Management will last at least through the next school year. The effort will bring more computers, iPads, and SMART Boards to classrooms, and more support for the arts.

“All of us at some point in our lives have had an opportunity where someone went out of their way to help you,” John Hailer, CEO of Natixis for the United States and Asia, said Thursday during the announcement at the school. “Here, we felt like there was an opportunity for us to help a school, which then in turn helps the kids and gives them the opportunity to have a better life.”

School officials said the "adoption" is part of a larger effort to find innovative ways to bolster schools across the city.

“I think this is a rare event,” said Matthew Wilder, a spokesman for the school district. In another example, Fidelity Investments has partnered with Dearborn Middle School in Roxbury.

Wilder said BPS is thrilled that companies are stepping up to the plate.

“This is work that needs to be done and we can’t do it alone and are thrilled we have good corporate partners in the city,” he said.

Principal Laurie Carr said students will now have top-of-the-line technology right in their classrooms, something just weeks ago was a dream for the Brookford Street school.

“We didn’t have the resources to become a 21st century school,” said Carr, who said many of the school’s computers were used ones donated by the police department. “We were told to dream big and we have.”

The human capital provided by Natixis employees, who will serve as mentors, will also go far toward boosting student achievement, officials said.

“This is about getting engaged and getting involved,” said Hailer, a Roslindale native. “We like to give money, but we also like to get our people involved. When I was younger it took someone a little older and a little wiser than me to help me and hopefully with this we can make an impact.”

The company said it chose the Winthrop after a lengthy review of Boston public schools because of its “dynamic and engaged principal; motivated teachers, and need for additional resources and support.”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino was at the school Thursday to thank Natixis for its commitment. Menino reminded students that there are groups in the city looking out for them.

“People at Natixis know the Winthrop School is worth investing in,” he said. “By the next school year, students and teachers will see big changes. The Winthrop might be a century old, but Natixis wants to make sure the technology isn’t.”

Over the summer Natixis staff will be working with the school’s administrators, reviewing ways to add technology to the classrooms, expand curriculum, and turn the school into a 21st century educational facility.

“I’ve been working in schools for 20 years and this is the first time I have ever seen something like this happen,” Carr said. “For kids their enthusiasm is going to grow as they start seeing things happen. When people start coming in and are here on a consistent basis that is really going to make a difference.”

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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