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Rhode Island Department of Education to Celebrate Educational Excellence at September 18 WaterFire

Annual special celebration honoring outstanding educators will kick off RIDE’s “Our Kids” campaign and engage students, families, and school and district leaders to help shape the future of education

Providence, RI – Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green today announced that the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) will once again honor Rhode Island educators for their outstanding service and dedication to the education profession and to their students with “WaterFire: Celebrating Educational Excellence.” The award ceremony and torch procession, which will recognize approximately 75 District Teachers of the Year and educators identified for excellence in their content areas, are scheduled to begin at 5:00pm. on Saturday, September 18 at the Basin Stage next to Station Park in Downtown Providence. Attendees in the invite-only section of the ceremony in the basin will be required to wear masks. The celebration will be held in partnership with XQ Institute, the nation's leading organization dedicated to rethinking the high school experience, which will host an array of activities nearby throughout the day.

“Our kids, our families, and our teachers are at the heart of the work we do every day to ensure we have a world-class education system and we are beyond proud to once again celebrate excellence in education with a special WaterFire,” said Commissioner Infante-Green. “The past year and a half was challenging but our school communities proved to be dynamic, resilient, and inspirational and they should be celebrated! I’m excited to pay homage to our incredible educators and continue to engage them and our students and families to give shape to the future of education in Rhode Island.”

As part of the special occasion, RIDE will launch its “Our Kids” campaign to underscore unity in education, energize families, educators, and school staff for the school year, and highlight the work and focus of teachers and the core mission of the agency: to serve “Our Kids.” Over the next school year and beyond, RIDE will be spotlighting “Our Kids” and ensuring that their success is front and center in every decision that RIDE makes. As part of the campaign, “Our Kids” banners are installed at all Providence school buildings, social media promotion has been deployed, and special pins and bumper stickers will be distributed to ceremony attendees to collectively display Rhode Island’s great pride and commitment to “Our Kids.”

Additionally, XQ and RIDE (XQ+RI) will host an interactive, self-guided education data wall for the public at Station Park from 4:00pm to 10:30pm to celebrate student voice and showcase stories of high school transformation underway in Rhode Island and across the country. Live music, an Art+Activism installation, and the renowned Inside Out Photobooth Truck will also be at the XQ+RI celebration, along with a forum for participants to share perspectives and community feedback about how Rhode Island can invest in high school transformation through unprecedented state and federal funding. Food trucks serving individually-packaged meals will be available for XQ activation guests, free of charge.

“Our relationship with Rhode Island began with a challenge to rethink high school with community, equity, and innovation at the core,” added XQ Senior Director of State and Local Partnerships Keith Dysarz, sharing how XQ+RI has expanded to public high schools statewide since 2015. “Rhode Island is a national leader in the high school redesign process, and our activation reflects an educational journey of state leaders, teachers, students, parents and partners, all working together to make Rhode Island high schools excellent.”

Throughout the summer, RIDE hosted a series of engagement sessions to gather feedback, suggestions, and comments on the agency’s approach to reimagining the high school experience and secondary regulations. RIDE’s proposed plan towards engagement and the key themes for reimagining the high school experience was first presented at a Council on Elementary and Secondary Education meeting in June 2021. RIDE’s proposal would make a number of changes meant to align high school to college and career readiness so students graduate ready with open doors to college and career success, increase real-world relevant learning to improve student engagement, and to rethink how high schools support the needs of students and their families. In October, RIDE will propose revisions of the secondary regulations to the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education that is reflective of the community’s feedback.

To ensure safety and health, invited guests and staff who will enter the designated ceremony space will be required to wear a mask. In alignment with guidance from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), general event attendees are strongly encouraged to wear a mask whether they are vaccinated or not. Attendees are asked stay home if they have tested positive for COVID-19, are waiting for COVID-19 test results, have COVID-19 symptoms, or have had close contact with a person who has tested positive for, or who has symptoms of COVID-19.