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EdVestors Awards $100,000 School on the Move Prize to the James Otis Elementary School in East Boston

School praised for academic improvements, culture of collaboration and key partnerships that helped keep students engaged during the height of the pandemic

October 27, 2021 – EdVestors, a school improvement organization in Boston, today awarded its $100,000 Thomas W. Payzant School on the Move Prize to the James Otis Elementary School in East Boston. The Prize, now in its 16th year, recognizes rapidly-improving schools that have made exemplary progress in advancing the academic achievement of all students. The 2021 Prize spotlighted eligible schools from previous years, with a focus on lessons learned from remote and hybrid learning and strategies for reimagining learning in the coming years. 

This morning, Mayor Kim Janey shared remarks and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius joined the EdVestors team to announce the winner live and recognize the two finalists during a ceremony at the GBH Studios in Brighton. WCVB-TV Anchor and Reporter Rhondella Richardson served as emcee at the ceremony, which was also attended by key business, civic, and education leaders. Fellow finalist schools – New Mission High School in Hyde Park and Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary School in East Boston – each received a $30,000 prize this year, an increase from the annual $10,000 prize, thanks to an anonymous donor.  

“Congratulations to New Mission High School in Hyde Park and both the James Otis Elementary School and the Patrick J Kennedy Elementary School in East Boston,” said Boston Mayor Kim Janey. “These schools are finalists for this year’s School on the Move Prize because of their incredible work providing a rich education to Boston’s young people. Schools across the City of Boston have shown their resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether we are educators or students, families or community partners, or public officials or advocates, coming together to ensure a quality education for our children is key."

The 410-student Otis Elementary has seen consistent improvements in both literacy and math, exceeding district averages in math from 2014-2019 and in ELA in 2018-2019. The school credits its improvement to strong leadership and meaningful collaboration with its families as well as its partnerships with local universities and community organizations that help provide teacher professional development and promote student engagement in STEM.  

“The James Otis Elementary School in East Boston is a shining example of how a culture of collaboration and respect can empower students and families, boost academic outcomes, and prove foundational for navigating through difficult times,” said Marinell Rousmaniere, President and CEO of EdVestors. “As we look to reimagine learning in the coming years, all three School on the Move finalists help provide a roadmap for new approaches in support of student learning and continued school improvement.”

“We are thrilled to be recognized as this year’s School on the Move,” said Paula Cerqueira-Goncalves, Principal of James Otis. “We believe that together we can make a difference in the lives of all our students with the support of our families and partners and ensure every single student reaches his or her fullest potential.”

At the Otis, nearly 75 percent of the student population has a first language other than English. Reflective of the student diversity, Otis teachers are also multilingual. In addition, the school provides wraparound services to families and provides professional development focused on race and critical consciousness to teachers, enabling students to see themselves in their learning. 

“The entire BPS community is proud of the James Otis Elementary School for this well-deserved recognition,” said Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools. “All three of the finalist schools work hard every day to create positive learning environments that support student growth and build positive relationships among teachers, families and communities. As we continue to promote equity and excellence throughout the district, we look forward to learning from the James Otis Elementary School’s accomplishments and implementing their positive practices across our schools." 

During the ceremony, EdVestors also took a moment to remember Dr. Tom Payzant, who served as Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools for 11 years and led the district through a period of important change and progress. Payzant passed away in July 2021. To honor his work, EdVestors showcased a talented young writer, 10th grader Kaylany Vicente, who read a poem she wrote – “Yup, It’s Roxbury” – sharing her pride in her home neighborhood.

The Thomas W. Payzant School on the Move Prize is made possible by generous support of presenting sponsors – the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation and Plymouth Rock Assurance – along with other 2021 sponsors: BerryDunn, The Boston Foundation, Lynne Brainerd & Michael Douvadjian, Eastern Bank Foundation, Eaton Vance, Fidelity Investments, Fiduciary Trust, Goldman Sachs, Insource Services, Inc., Roger L. & Lisa K. Krakoff Family Foundation, Larson Family Foundation, Liberty Mutual Foundation, Kelly Nowlin, Parker Family Foundation, Simon Brothers Family Foundation, State Street Corporation, and William Schawbel & Schawbel Group, among other generous organizations, foundations and individuals.



EdVestors’ mission is to advance equitable, meaningful education that prepares every Boston student to activate their power and shape their future. EdVestors combines strategic grantmaking, content expertise, and collaborative implementation to help schools and the system improve. Since its founding in 2002, EdVestors has raised and invested over $36 million for school improvement efforts, currently through the Racial Equity Seed Fund, BPS Arts Expansion, the School on the Move Prize, Zeroing in on Math, and Career Pathways initiative. Learn more at