City on a Hill Charter Public School New Bedford
Contact: Marisa Burgess
Address: 777 Church Street, New Bedford, MA 02745
Facebook: City on a Hill Charter Public Schools
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City on a Hill Charter Public School New Bedford is the newest addition to a three-school network of public charter high schools in the cities of Boston and New Bedford. The flagship City on a Hill campus first opened in 1995, City on a Hill II opened in August of 2013 and will reach full enrollment by August 2016, and City on a Hill New Bedford will open this August with 110 freshmen, reaching full enrollment by August 2017. All City on a Hill schools have a maximum enrollment of 280 students, and all three schools operate under a shared executive director and board of trustees. CoaH New Bedford will operate with the same mission, vision, and educational philosophy as the flagship school and CoaH II. Curriculum, instruction, assessment, and expectations are consistent across the three schools in the network.
City on a Hill New Bedford is designed to serve students who are most likely to have been underserved in their prior schools. Of the current CoaH students in Boston, 95% are Black or Hispanic; 80% qualify for free or reduced price lunch; over 27% report that English is not their first language; and the average student arrives two-years behind in reading. City on a Hill New Bedford expects and is prepared to serve a similar population.
While some schools will track these students according to their skill levels, City on a Hill schools do not. Students enter City on a Hill with a wide range of educational experience and at various skill levels, and it is CoaH’s job is to catch them up in order to prepare them for college success. Regardless of geography, race, or socioeconomics, all City on a Hill students are held to the same high standards as they navigate its rigorous academic curriculum supported by the programs proven successful in helping students achieve. City on a Hill believes that the value of education is not in seat time; students must demonstrate their earned skills and knowledge in order to advance to the next grade level or graduate. City on a Hill approaches students’ high school education knowing that they all can and will be proficient and college-ready.
All City on a Hill schools emphasize academic achievement, citizenship, teacher leadership, and public accountability. CoaH seeks to graduate responsible, resourceful, and respectful democratic citizens prepared to advance community, culture, and commerce, and to compete in the 21st century. City on a Hill believes first, and most centrally, not just that all students can learn, but that all students must learn in order to address the social, economic, and political inequities of our nation.
City on a Hill’s Board of Trustees, faculty, and staff are committed to give all CoaH students the tools they will need to gain acceptance to and succeed in college and as citizens of the greater community. Following a curriculum that aligns with Common Core standards and that incorporates academic achievement, active citizenship, and public service, teachers use a wide range of instructional methods that match students’ individual learning needs. In the classroom, students are required to demonstrate hard work in classes that focus on building higher-order thinking skills and writing across the curriculum.
Not only does City on a Hill seek to educate the urban youth of Massachusetts, it aims to close the achievement gap by sending its students to college. The CoaH model provides every student three years of individualized tutorial in groups of two or three. All students in their 11th and 12th grade years attend a junior or senior seminar course designed to guide them through the college and financial aid application processes and transition to their college placement. These strategies are designed to ensure that students not only gain and build upon the skills they need to become college-ready, but also to help them navigate the college application process and plan for the financial commitment of attending college. As a result of its carefully planned and executed programs, all of City on a Hill’s graduates – since the very first graduating class in 1998 – have been accepted to college.
Students are engaged in active citizenship through weekly Town Meeting debates, annual mock elections, school-wide service days, a civics-focused history curriculum, and the completion of City Project. City Project is a seminar-style course on public policy in which each student researches a problem in the community, completes a 100-hour internship at a related site, and compiles a final paper and presentation on the experience.
As an organization is only as strong as its leaders, City on a Hill places an emphasis on teacher leadership. Dedicated to the success of their students, City on a Hill teachers push students to work hard and support them in their academic endeavors. Not only are CoaH teachers accountable to students, but they are also accountable to their colleagues, as all staff members work together towards the goal of closing the achievement gap one student at a time. Teachers assess each other through rigorous peer evaluations, and they assess the work of each other’s students, as they grade final proficiencies. Additionally, City on a Hill has a Teacher Certification Program, which prepares future teachers eager to make a difference in urban public schools in our own city as well as across the nation. Through this program, CoaH provides teaching fellows with knowledge, guidance, and experience in the classroom along with hosting fellows and teachers from other area charter schools as they partake in rigorous coursework.
In 2014, 68% of the faculty in the operating schools were engaged in leadership through holding administrative responsibilities or participating in planning committees. City on a Hill’s educational leaders are all teachers. Erica Brown, the executive director, began her career at City on a Hill as an English Teacher; Paul Hays, the current Chief Academic Officer, was a founding science teacher; the principal of City on a Hill New Bedford, Kim Wall, spent a number of years teaching math and science; and Michael Lansing, CoaH New Bedford’s Vice-Principal, comes from a teaching background as well.
To hold itself accountable to the public and show taxpayers and the community results to ensure that we are delivering on our promise to educate our students, we open our doors and invite visitors to come into the school in various capacities. City on a Hill Schools host guest speakers from the community at our weekly all-school Town Meetings and invite community members to serve as jurors for CoaH’s final proficiencies – extensive written and oral year-end assessments. As an institution, City on a Hill holds itself publicly accountable for the work done in the classroom and the ways in which our students represent CoaH out in the community.
We seek volunteers to serve as community jurors for our students' final proficiencies each spring. Additionally, we ask for hosts for student interns and for our Corporate Shadowing Day.
All students participate in at least one service day, and most participate in several other service learning projects.